Okay, I confess...I am using a post from the House2House blog for their upcoming conference this weekend. I am co-facilitating a workshop on "relational Christianity" with Neil Gamble, Frank Viola and W. Paul Young (The Shack). Should be an amazing time! And since I doubt that my "viewing audience" has seen the other blog, I am posting here what I wrote there :-)
So why is it so important to get this “relational Christianity” thingy right? (Do you think the phrase “Relational Christianity” is redundant? Is there an “non-relational” version! Sorry, couldn’t resist!). So why is it so important to live first and most in intimacy with God, then in healthy community with one another which both lead to effective mission? Some of my thoughts are below.
Regarding intimacy with God. This is from my journal not too long ago.
I am now fully convinced that it was Jesus’ awareness of His Father’s love that enabled Him to live the trusting, completely dependent life that He did. And a life of trusting dependence is absolutely essential to becoming like Jesus. No one becomes like Jesus by trying to apply His teachings or follow His example.
Rather we become like Jesus by allowing Jesus to live His life in and through us. Our part is not to try harder, but to trust more and more deeply, and to surrender more completely to His loving guidance and power. Paul sums up both how to live loved and how to have Jesus live His life in us in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Notice how Paul personalizes Jesus’ love and sacrifice for him: “who loved me…” His deep personal experience of God’s love for him is what enabled him to live “the crucified life” – a life by which Jesus lived out His life in Paul.
Regarding healthy community. Consider that Jesus stated that the one thing that marks us as His people and above all other things validates the message of the Kingdom is healthy relationships! See John 13:34-35 and John 17:20-23.
Regarding mission that flows from intimacy and healthy community: Wow, I could write a lot here (indeed I have written a long paper about this one!). In a nutshell, Jesus was the most “missional” person ever to live, but He stated over and over that He did nothing on His own initiative. John 5:19 NASV says: "Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.'" And Jesus ministered from within a community (as did the Apostle Paul). Do we think we can improve on how Jesus did things? And do we really think our mission will have authenticity and power if we embark on it on our own initiative? Yet how many believers do you know who can honestly say, “I do nothing on my own initiative”? I rest my case... :-)
May grace embrace you, love overwhelm you.
Tom, the least of Abba's children