Why are we rubbish at mission?

(and no I’m not talking about Sunday Papers or Richard – just the church in general and me (Mark) in particular)

Is it because: We comfort ourselves with thoughts that we don’t “sin” much – so therefore we forget what doing wrong feels like (not because we aren’t doing wrong, but because we kid ourselves that we aren’t). So now, we have forgotten what it feels like to do wrong and we can’t imagine what it feels like for people who know that they are doing wrong – in fact, we forget that there are My Blueberry Nights dvdrip

Prison of the Dead ipod Romancing the Stone movie full

The Prince of Tides A Merchants of Venus (aka Dirty Little Business) movies A Nightmare on Elm Street move Patton movies people who believe that they are doing wrong!

So we have forgotten how to address people who are aware of their wrongdoing. We can’t imagine what to say to people who are aware of their wrongdoing because we’ve forgotten what it feels like to be a wrongdoer.

There are people out there who know that they do wrong and know that they want out of it, but (very) unfortunately we’ve forgotten what to say to them because we’ve forgotten what it feels like to do wrong (because we kid ourselves that we don’t do much wrong).

I experienced this with a friend just the other day – he knew he was doing wrong, but I just didn’t relate to it. I let him down.

I need to put myself on a programme that reminds me how wrong I am so much of the time and at the same time reminds me of the basics of what Jesus has done for people like me – because it seems that I’ve forgotten. After all, if I’ve forgotten how wrong I am then I’m forgetting how much Jesus wants to, and can, help us.

What is Good?

In the discussion about Christian’s wielding power over others through the means of democratic government, the question comes up of what is good.

The crux of the question is: Is forcing people to behave in a particular way, so that people’s lives are easier, more comfortable, ‘nicer’, etc., “good”?

I can see that for most people a “good” thing is something that makes life ‘better’ for people. On the other hand we see that ultimately ‘good’ is having a relationship with God, which makes ‘evil’ the state of not having a relationship with God. ‘Good acts’ are therefore the things that we do that come out of our relationship with God and ‘evil acts’ are those things that we do separate from God’s influence. These two views of what ‘good’ is are virtually opposed to each other – the first claiming that good is independent of God, the second that it is dependent on God.

There is nothing wrong with having a subjective definition of ‘good’, it’s quite useful to be able to say “hey that’s good”. However, if we are trying to do good and we believe in God then the idea that we can do good apart from God is actually rather a distraction and can take us away from the good that God wants us to do. In fact, we can end up behaving in ways that oppose God in order to do what we feel is good. Take the simple statement “love your enemy” – we can suddenly turn that on it’s head if we believe that we can do ‘good’ by killing our enemy and stopping them doing the evil things that they were going to do. 🙁 (as if somehow ‘good’ can fill the gap left by the evil things that weren’t committed by our enemy)

This relates to my previous post ‘Freedom The Four Feathers on dvd

Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls rip

Adaptation. divx Alive or Dead full ‘, where I ponder whether freedom is a prerequisite for good and whether anything that is forced cannot be good.


It seems to me that God created us with the intention that we have freedom. Before the fall Adam and Eve were entirely free, free to do whatever they wanted – note that they only wanted to do good stuff.

When I think about Jesus’ approach to things, the same seems true – he appears to only give us freedoms. He hasn’t tried to override our free choice – he wants us to freely choose to accept His ways. He challenges us but he doesn’t seem to have made (forced) anyone to do anything. When we do what He wants it seems to me that we do it because part of us wants to do it. Our motive is inside us and the outcome is the good that we do because of that good motive inside of us.

So perhaps we shouldn’t force others to do anything? Obviously the Crusades come to mind, but also other types of politics. Should we force people to pay taxes for good causes by using our power to vote in government elections? Sure, the result may appear to be good, but isn’t there a problem with us impinging on people’s freedoms, and claiming to be acting on behalf of Jesus?Scrooge dvdrip Ben move Thunder on the Hill rip

Synecdoche, New York full

21 Grams rip

Criticism of Involvement in Government


I’m just posting this to add to the archives on the topic ‘Government’ which I (Mark) haven’t added to recently.
Found this great criticism of the activities of Jim Wallis (of sojo.net):

One note I want to add is that his criticism of ‘the social gospel’ is specifically a criticism of social works via government. He doesn’t appear to criticise doing socially good things personally (oneself).

Treating church as a fetish

Richard emailed me a link to Pete Rollins’ latest blog post:

Night of the Living Dead ipod Gothic movies
Tides of War move

When a Man Loves a Woman trailer

Real Genius trailer

So I had to comment in support:
I very much agree with what you say Pete. My approach is that I go along on a Sunday morning to ‘church’ because I want to have contact with people who believe (pretty much) the same stuff as me. I do not support the singing, preaching, sound system, car parking, etc. because I pretty much entirely disagree with the grip that Sunday morning services have on church and indeed disagree with what actually happens on a Sunday morning.

I’d been encouraged not to cooperate partly by Steve Chalke when he basically said not to support the status quo at your church if you didn’t agree with it, when he was speaking at Spring Harvest a number of years ago!!!

However, I think that cutting myself off from the established church would not help change happen. I guess it is the church renewal v. church planting argument at this point. I choose to not abandon my brothers and sisters. So I do feel subjectively connected to the people (which is the church), but I do not feel subjectively connected to the ’service’ activity (which is not the church after all).

Targeted Christmas Marketing Encounters (of the mission kind)

First Richard’s news if you missed it. Now…

A bunch of us were Christmas shopping last night after which bro-in-law told me that he had had his presents wrapped for free by people outside a church in the high street. I said I couldn’t bring myself to do that as it was cheating – I was a Christian already!
OK, I’m making a few assumptions which are really about myself and not about the people doing the wrapping:

  • I’m assuming that they are trying to reach out to people who don’t know about God’s love by wrapping the presents and
  • I’m assuming that they aren’t particularly intending to wrap everyone from their own church’s presents.
  • So therefore I’m thinking that they don’t want to wrap other church people’s presents.

The questions that now go through my head are:

  • Should mission activity be a simple extension of what we do for ourselves (the group), just extended out to others? (because otherwise we are saying we aren’t willing to do things for our closest friends what we are willing to do for others) or
  • Can mission be doing something that when ‘they’ become ‘us’ we won’t do for those people anymore?

I don’t know – I think that there is more to this than meets my eye.

Anyway, I’m going to give bro-in-law the benefit of the doubt: He is single and perhaps he was trying to meet some generous Christian females from our nearest big town!

Sharing Mission Across Boundaries

I’ve been involved for a few years now with an inter-church youth work in our town. Perhaps the biggest challenge it has given me is “on what basis can a shared, inter-church, mission take place?”

Richard’s post the other day about equality Bone Dry the movie has inspired me to think about how a work can happen in an inter-church context.

Our natural tendency is to want to own the mission that we are involved in, and similarly if we are funding something we also want to own it and have a good deal of say in how that mission happens. When stakeholders are from different churches they might feel different things about how mission should work and they might feel different pressures from those in their churches, so it is perhaps more difficult to reconcile differences and come to agreement over what should happen.

I think that what an inter-church mission can be is:

  1. A resource.
  2. A part of reducing divides between different churches.
  3. An invitation to work in a way that has the side effect of breaking down division.
  4. A challenge to work with people we do not necessarily see eye to eye with.
  5. An opportunity to learn submission.
  6. An opportunity to fit into a jigsaw over which we do not have control.
  7. A way of learning to accept what others have to give, without pushing them to give what we think they should.

Perhaps our biggest challenge is to give up some of the control mechanisms that we are used to having in our smaller, individual churches. This does make us more vulnerable to the actions of others, but perhaps we are also becoming more vulnerable to God and his will as we learn to relinquish our own ideas!

I do find it scary and I’m convinced there is a lot, lot more to learn about this. I feel like a fearful newbie to be honest, but at least I can look back and see the work God has enabled so far.

Everything is Permissible

1 Cor 10:23″Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. 24Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

This has been one of those weird un-understandable verses to me for a long time, but with what I am learning about law and rules I’m wondering if I’m beginning to understand it.

A couple of the problems with rules, in my mind, are:

  • They can’t guide you to do the best, optimum thing at any moment, because they are generalised ideas.
  • Knowing a moral rule is not the same as knowing God – following rules can in fact appear to reduce your reliance on knowing God. I say ‘appear’ because we are tempted to think that we are better because we followed the rule and perhaps if we are better then we don’t need to know God so well.

I’ve started to notice that Jesus never forces us to do what he would like us to do, he very much leaves things to our own free choice. You could say that, therefore, he permits us to do anything – which leads us to choose, ourselves, what we will actually do. By moving from a set of rules, where you were permitted to do certain things and not permitted to do others, to acting out of a changed spirit inside it would seem that everything is now permitted. Note the second verse above “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” Also note that we are still capable of acting independently of God’s guidance, acting out of our will rather than His – that we can and do still do wrong.

Antinomianism P.S. I Love You trailer Clue full

is listed in Wikipedia as “Antinomianism (from the Greek αντι, “against” + νομος, “law”), or lawlessness (in the Greek Bible: ανομια), in theology, is the idea that members of a particular religious group are under no obligation to obey the laws of ethics or morality as presented by religious authorities. Antinomianism is the polar opposite of legalism, the notion that obedience to a code of religious law is necessary for salvation.”

Often antinomianism is painted as a way of life that means you can sin as much as you want to! Well, that would be a horrific lifestyle, but one that I don’t think antinomianism is responsible for. There is a big difference between “no rules” and “no rules, be as evil as you like”. To me antinomianism is “no rules, follow God’s heart in you” – where’s the evil in that?

Surely obeying a rule instead of acting out of God’s guidance is just as much an act that is separate from God as breaking a rule outside of God’s guidance. The act, whichever one it is, still comes out of a separation from God and therefore is a sinful act – sin being separation from God and sinful acts being what you do in your separation from God. Rules do not bring the desired result, in fact they tend to reinforce our ‘stuck in death’ state.

So looking at the opposite behaviour – having a relationship with God and acting directly out of it, having the Holy Spirit inside and acting from that – we see that rules have no place within our relationship with God. God breaks through the barriers and allows us to know him, meaning we no longer have to approximate what he wants, we can know what he wants and do that – in fact we will want to do that just as much as he wants us to do that.

When we are ‘in Christ’ there is no room for rules, rules which cannot bring us to doing the right thing. We are left instead with the single broad command to love – and we can only love when we are acting in God’s will that we know through his Holy Spirit… surely…

Where’s the Humility in Faith?

I was caused to reflect yesterday on the seeming lack of humility in the certainty a person of faith has that their faith is true which additionally might mean that they have to believe that the faith of others is misguided.

On first inspection this seems to demand a lack of humility – a belief in the correctness of one’s beliefs.

Anyway, I didn’t feel to comfortable with this so I thought about it some more.

It occurred to me that perhaps knowing the truth can only happen when you give up your own beliefs and accept truth from outside of oneself. So to have any faith at all it has to come because:

  • You recognised your foolishness and inability to work out what was truth
  • You were supplied with faith from someone/something outside of yourself

So by definition to have faith is to admit your foolishness. It demands a loss of pride.

We are given faith, it comes from God. We believe in the truth that he gives us and we do not accept any credit for the receipt of that faith – which has only arrived in us with humility.

In my mind we often go too far in what we believe is our faith: We start labelling our opinions as faith and start believing in our own wise pronouncements on matters of belief. When we start noticing that we have a vested interest in our position with regard to matters of belief then perhaps we might notice that there is something wrong, that we have allowed pride in our own opinions and our own wisdom to work its way back in to our lives – pushing our real, God given, faith to the sidelines.