This weekend I was in Pasadena CA at the West Coast Health Care Missions Conference. Unfortunately I spent most of the weekend feeling miserable with a headache, temperature and nasal congestion. It is the first time I can ever remember cancelling a workshop because of health. And I received little sympathy from my medical friends all of whom took a few steps back each time I came near because of their fears of H1 N1 flu.
In spite of that it was a great weekend reconnecting to friends old and new.
I was particularly impacted by a talk given by Bryant Myers, now a professor at Fuller Seminary who worked with World Vision for many years. His question Do we point people towards our organization, towards money, towards, power or toward Christ? really had me thinking. He talked about how the effectiveness of World Vision projects often pointed people towards World Vision as the saviour rather than towards Christ and it made me aware of how subtle the difference can be.
Bryant talked about the fact that the go and tell evangelism we so often practice is deeply flawed because the power of conversion and of discipleship remains outside the community. It is people outside the community who bring the message and hold the answers. It is often even the people outside the community who ask the questions – the community members themselves are often seen as passive receptors of our message rather than active participants in it
In the gospels the questions about the reality of Christ are always asked by the community itself in response to the acts of God in their midst. The Gospel message is so much more powerful when it is proclaimed in response to acts that make people aware of a new reality and challenge them to ask questions that point them beyond what they already understand.
The challenge of the gospel is not in what we say but in how we live. To be truly spiritual people we must live our lives and do our work so that we bear witness to the spirit of God that dwells within us and not to ourselves and our own ambitions. We must live in a way that can only be interpreted in the light of the spirit that is within us. It is only then that we will find people respond with questions that point them not to us and our organizations but to God and the reality of Christ. Only then will we authentically bear witness to Christ and draw people into a living relationship with God.
Makes me think of Mother Theresa who said – I bear witness to Christ at all times and occasionally I use words.