Tuesday, January 14, 2014

In 2014 - Connect to the Story

In my first two posts of this New Year, I have blogged about the need to both know and live “his story.” I hope you have been considering how to connect with the story we need to know and live in for living sent today.   

Our story has God on a mission that runs from Genesis (past) to Revelation (future), one continuance thread. Amazingly, God invites us to connect to his story for our own. 

For me, the story starts in Genesis 1:28, since it is where the human experience begins. The story of God doesn’t end in Revelation 7:9 but we can hang a large banner there – “Mission Accomplished!”

The thesis of the story, of our divine “White Paper” (see my last post), takes shape around what God is doing for, with, and through ”every nation, tribe and tongue”  to reconnect us to himself. 

It is important to know firstly that God’s mission is not for the “nations” sake, as the primary reason God is connecting us. The “nations” are rather both the beneficiary of and a connecting point through which God attains his ultimate purposes of filling the earth with the knowledge of his glory. Rather, the mission of God is for his glorious Son, the King of kings and the Lord of lords! 

If you have been around Christians for any length of time, you have probably heard: “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” While that is true the “plan” isn’t about you. My friend David Bryant make this significant change to idea this way, “God loves his Son and has a wonderful plan for him to rule.” The mission of God connects us to what God wants to do for his Son.  

Psalm 2:8 declares:  “Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.”

Here’s a question to start 2014: “How are you connecting to his story?” Perhaps, first we need to ask, is our life connected to the reason God has us here? Have we found “it” – our purpose for living? I know many Christians who are still looking for the answer to that question, as if it is some kind of divinely disconnected mystery. It's not.

This disconnect originates with the idea that God has a wonderful plan for our life, personally, individually, and so we go looking for our plan, our purpose, thinking it’s about us. In fact, God’s plan for us has everything to do with and is directly connected to God’s plan for his Son. 

Americans, including the vast majority of Christians, think life is about self-advancement, self-achievement, and finding self-significance – and then they will be happy. Christianity then has been “marketed” as a way of self-improvement, of achieving our goal of personal happiness, and spiritually to connect to God’s plan of salvation. However unless our “improvement” is connected to God’s purposes, it will always leave us wanting more, still looking for contentment. 

Much of Christian teaching disconnects us from God’s purposes and the results are that many are disconnecting from the Church. 

In a conversation at dinner Saturday night, this point came up with friends we were with. My friend said, “…problem is you can’t mass-produce Christians and that is what we (Evangelicals) have done.” 

In order to mass produce Christians, the Church largely left out the message of God’s missions to focus on “self.” But life is meant to be lived for others, many different others, who lack the knowledge of the glory of God, until it fills the earth and Jesus receives his rightful inheritance. 

Getting connected to God’s story starts with knowing and living for the glory of his Son among the nations. Without that, a big piece of our Christian life is missing. In fact, and I am sorry if this offends, but you’re not really following Jesus, at least not the way he desires, in the way that will truly achieve our best life now. 

God is all about his mission because he has a wonderful plan for his son, as Psalm 2:8 tells us. We need to connect to that truth and allow it to be the conduit we live our lives by. 

Jesus does not want us disconnected from his mission. He wants us plugged into his commands, what he commissioned us for, and what we must connect with him in. These aren’t burdensome requirements but a life-giving connection with the power source of all things. I will come back to this point in future blog posts but please know this – Jesus wants us connected to his mission to the “nations,” because he knows this is where our greatest joy in this life will be found. 

Sadly, however, few Christians understand the grand narrative, the mission God has to see greater and greater glory for his Son connecting in every nation, tribe and tongue. We’ll never achieve the highest level of self-significance without a good connection with Christ in his-story. We must move beyond the “self-help-feel-good-about-myself theology” that permeates our churches. 

When Christ’s mission is disconnected from our Christianity, we produce the cultural Christians so prevalent in our nation today. When Christ’s mission is left unconnected to our lives, we produce consumerist Christians who compartmentalize life, allowing only limited space for the things of God. Is it any wonder then that there are so many powerless Christians? 

In 2014, if you are not there yet, get plugged in by connecting your life to His Story. I would be blessed to help you take steps in that direction. If you are there, mobilize others to get plugged in - for #LivingSentToday.

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