Thursday, February 3, 2011

Experiencing more of the Bible through mission

Gordon Fee wrote a book on hermeneutics (the art and science of Biblical interpretation) called "How to Read the Bible for All its Worth". In it he showed the Bible student how to discover what the first century writer meant by what he said, how to read a passage in its context, etc. etc. When you become a missionary, all those things still apply but we add one that I believe may be more important than them all...

You have to live a Bible passage before you 'get it', I mean really 'get it'.

Our little group consists of a awfully fun bunch of people. Last night for example, one guy was missing a leg, the other missing an arm, two handicapped children, one single father of three (less than a week off of crack), an ex-con waiting a parole transfer to another state as well as ...a surgeon, airline pilot, nurse, schoolteacher, etc... 34 of us in all different situations

When we meet together we have a meal. As you can guess that burden falls on just a few gals in our group. About half of our group don't have two nickels to rub together and are really making every effort just to survive. So those gals are experiencing missionary life in a really powerful way and consequently get to experience some Bible verses that others of us don't.

For example, In the much abused passage of 2 Cor. 8 (usually wrongly applied to a building campaign, yes I'm guilty) Paul is commending the saints of one city for helping the poor saints of Jerusalem. What made it even more special was that these saints didn't have that much themselves but they were sacrificially giving to help fellow Christians in their time of need. In this passage God tells them, "For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time of your abundance also may supply their lack - that there may be an equality." Paul is simply saying "you help them when you can and they need it and they'll do the same for you when they can and you need it." And then he speaks gloriously of the spiritual benefit of this type of giving to your neighbor in need. That it is to be done from the heart of compassion for your poor neighbor, cheerfully or not at all. When it is done from this Spirit-led motivation you will "sow bountifully" and there is a great spiritual reward in so doing.

Our 'food ladies' champion this in our ministry. Week after week they bring while others can't or sometimes just don't. And they do it out of joy and humility. They experience the Bible passage. For many of us, the only time we ever heard that passage was when we were in a building campaign or our annual giving pledges for tithes and offerings neither of which have anything to do with the story from which these spiritual principles are derived.

To experience what it feels like to give to the poor... you have to give to the poor. No, not have your church do it, you do it. No, not give in the benevolence offering, you do it. No, don't give to a local charity that does it (though we'd welcome your gifts :-)), you do it. Only then, can you experience it up close and personal like our girls do. And only then, can you experience the spiritual benefits Paul promises here.

And then there's this: It's a burden, even if you are doing it joyfully. Sometimes you feel like, "Man , we're carrying the freight for a lot of people." The gospel is that Christ carried the freight for us when were were without hope... but it was still freight. Jesus suffered for the "joy that was before Him" but that doesn't minimize the suffering one iota. Yes, the missionary service is service, it is work, it is sacrificial and it is many times without recognition, thanks and sometimes even with a sense of entitlement. That is the suffering that we share when we shoulder the burdens of our brokenness together.

We did have one option... we could've let the rich guys eat first and invite the poor to come later... oh yeah, there is a Bible passage about that too.

I love feeling the weight of the Scriptures administered by the Spirit on our lives as we advance the mission of God. Some Scriptures you'll never understand until you move your life out into the same streets the disciples lived in, helping the same people they helped.

When you do, His Word comes alive and you can finally, Read the Bible for All its Worth.


6 - read/write comments:

Dena Johnson said...

Loving every moment of it, too!!!

Joni said...

At first it's scary, then it's fun. Thanks for describing it so well.

Bobby Capps said...

PS Joni, and Dena who commented above are the 'gals' I was talking about. The other is Donna. Thanks... really.

Anonymous said...

...there is such joy from seeing it and being a small part of it and then there is such burden of not being able to do thankful for how many people in our town love on the the people who are hurting...we are blessed. Marea Wilson

Anonymous said...

Yes, at times it is hard but it is all worth it!

Anonymous said...

BTBB, You RAAAWWWWK!!!!! Keep up the good work!!!

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