Friday, June 19, 2009

I surrender all... again

Wading through book-loads of lists and information, I'm amazed by the scope and faithfulness of God's interaction with us. As I've been staggering through data, I've had to stop to worship several times, overwhelmed by the magnitude and simplicity of the mission of God. Throughout history, he has been determined to reconcile the world to himself and restore our relationship with him.

Reading Stephen Neill's History of Christian Missions, that classic recounting of the Church's serial efforts and mistakes, brought me to my knees. Surely Christ did not have in mind the formalizing of ritual to replace our fellowship with him. It is doubtful that Jesus would have died to bring a Latin liturgy, a thick book of Common Prayer, or a white-clad church with a steeple somewhere into a culture of poverty or a survivalist community. How many of us have garbled his invitation with our cultural overtones? Do we still morph the Good News today, living within communities who see church as an irrelevant relic from the mid-1900s era?

Christianity is certainly not a Western religion, having found its home everywhere in the world before its adherents were brutally suppressed. Since apostolic times, the Church has sent missionaries, the first wave is killed, the second and third waves go in their place... and eventually a foothold is established. The church springs up and thrives.

Then a savage hoard of opponents slaughters every believer in its path or an emperor gives an edict and the entire faith community is wiped out. I was devastated reading the horrific cycles of the early indigenous churches of India, Japan, China, Persia, Europe, Russia, Palestine, Egypt, other parts of Africa, and North America. These are my brothers and sisters, my Family! How many have suffered and died to bring Good News over the centuries? How many starts must be made in the same place?

Our complacency has no value, especially in the "safe zone" of Canada and the USA. How are we carrying out God's invitation to reconciliation? Will we be judged in comparison to the faithfulness of our predecessors. They gave everything for what they understood as God's call on them. Are we willing to do the same?

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