maandag 24 februari 2014

Missiology & Society

As a missiologist I am very much aware of the fact that when the gospel is introduced in a socio-economic and cultural-religious context that there will be many forces pitted against it.  There will be clear and deliberate resistance to some aspects of the gospel and biblical teaching that displease us. There will be the joyful embrace of some aspects of the gospel that please us. There will be also attempts to modify some of the aspects of the gospel we do not like so that these becomes more palatable if not downright self-serving. The Bible is very clear about the human heart, it is devious and scheming and this is nowhere as visible as in the field of morals and ethics.  A lot can be said about morals and ethics but the bottom-line is that it is about the basic question ‘’how should we then live’’.  This question can be answered on the basis of democracy where a combination of the majority vote, political compromise and what is already enshrined in law in the history of our society gives us answers to the question ‘’how should we then live’’. In our current western society the answer would be something like: ‘’you can believe whatever you want and live in whatever way you want as an individual as long as you do not break the laws of our society and do not measurably damage someone else in the process’’. This kind of individualistic thinking has also found its way into the church and is dictating a subtle hedonistic heresy which like Cain says:  ‘’am I my brother’s keeper’’? People influenced by this heresy hardly feel responsible for their fellow-humans around the globe and spend virtually all their time and resources on pleasing themselves.  At most they may give a little donation, a fraction of what they spend on themselves to charity so that they can alleviate their nagging guilt-feelings and feel good about themselves. After all deep down all humans have some sense of the law of Christ: ‘’love your neighbour as yourself and do unto others as you would like them to do to you’’. Also the heresy of ‘’you can believe whatever you want as long as you do not break the law’’ has found its way into our churches. Sound doctrine is replaced by a ‘’supermarket method’’ of picking and choosing what we like to believe in the Bible and what not. Not on the basis of some reliable criteria, but on the basis of personal preference. We pick what suits us, we leave, question or downplay what doesn’t suit us. Many churches condone this kind of behaviour as long as people do not break the church laws, do not clearly harm others, do not undermine the authority of the institution, and often most importantly do not threaten the position of the office bearers of the institution.  In the end we may still call ourselves Christians but we really the ‘’Lords’’ of our own lives, our God is our ‘’belly’’, that is our individual and collective self-interest. Like the rich young man we may conform to the outward demands of religion and feel very good about ourselves, and yet we are deceived.........The religion God seeks is one based on an inner conviction of living a life of love for God and our fellow humans whereby we look after the needs and interests of our neighbour as much as we look after ourselves, a religion characterised by looking after orphans and widows in distress.....This cannot be achieved by strenuous adherence to the law of Christ but needs to come from a transformed heart that is eager to live in such a manner. For no matter how hard a lemon tree tries, she will not bear apples. Only a total transformation of our nature by Gods Holy Spirit will make us bear the fruit we need to bear for His Glory.