A Calling to Betrayal

Following Jesus is a call to betrayal. There can be no fudging this. As soon as we affirm that ‘Jesus is Lord!’ we have committed an act of betrayal. We are announcing that all other allegiances and narratives must now be forfeit to a greater and deeper vocation. 

Ambition and identity are to be held lightly and be subject to Christ. All desires and aspirations are to be shaped by love. Selfish ambition has no place in the life of a Jesus follower. There can be no desire to make a name for ourselves (the sin of Babel) or to become ‘a big name’ on the conference circuit. We are, instead, to consider other’s needs as above our own, willingly working for the betterment of our sisters and brothers. Our identity is to be found in and through Christ and not through success or fame or riches. Our self-awareness is firstly found in being a recipient of God’s gratuitous grace and not in our being male or female, Gentile or Jew, slave or free. Such identities must, at most, be tertiary, for of secondary importance is being part of a new community of grace, the ‘called out’ ones, called together to betray previous narratives in favour of a better story. 

We see this played out again and again in Acts of the Apostles. Pentecost comes with a BANG, turning the usual, the ‘normal,’ upside down. It is the first taste of Mary’s Magnificat in the life of the Church: the humble become filled; the powerless become those who shape the future; the fearful become brave and the weak strong; the rich and powerful start to lose their place in the hierarchy because ‘there is another king, one Jesus.’

We see this unfold as Peter and John heal the cripple and have their first run in with the spiritual leaders. The disciples will not keep silent, threats or no; even imprisonment is no obstacle to them. And neither is the beginnings of persecution and martyrdom. Indeed, as Tertullian noted in Apologeticus, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. We see this again as Saul finds faith, as Peter encounters Cornelius, as Paul and Barnabus set off on their journeys; as the new movement spreads into Europe where it found a home for the next two thousand years; as the apostles wrote their letters and the Gospels, seeking to help the fledgling churches apply the stories of Jesus to their growing lives. 

And so a new narrative emerged, one in which ‘this Jesus’ takes the leading role, with the disciples playing necessary but secondary parts in a new story. These are not ‘walk on’ parts, but meaningful and insightful roles. They are the out-working of the in-breaking Kingdom of God, a process that continues even to this day. 

The concern is, however, that Europe, home to the faith for 2000, has failed to continue living a life of betrayal. Instead the church, instead of speaking the truth to power, became the power itself. The assertion moved from ‘Jesus is Lord!’ to ‘the church is the embodiment of the Kingdom and therefore you must submit to the Church.’ Ecclesiastical power was substituted for humility and the narrative of Jesus was lost.

We need to retell the Jesus story. We need to learn again the art of betraying the powers and principalities by embodying that first Christian creed, Jesus is Lord!

The views expressed in this blog post are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the GC network.

Photo by Edward Cisneros on Unsplash

The B-word

As I write the U.K. is in a state of confusion and flux. There have been and are arguments that float terms such as ‘sovereignty’ and ‘taking back control.’ People on all sides have strong views which have sometimes led to violence and even bloodshed on English streets. Emotions flow freely, in a torrent that divides nations, families and tribes.

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The ‘Red Lines’ of the Kingdom

In Acts we find a story of The Jewish diaspora, in which Jews, allowed to legally hold to their faith, were nonetheless subject to the vagaries of Empire. The Jews were scattered through the Mediterranean world, particularly the eastern end, and like all diaspora peoples, they gathered together for mutual support and protection. They formed insular communities so that their religious and cultural lives could be built up. Whilst there was trade (and other) engagements with the wider, imperial community, this was limited. Integration was not part of their agenda.

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Things Home Mission Can Learn: Study – Part 3

This is the third part in a series on what those involved in mission to the UK can learn from cross-cultural mission around the world.

When Sue and I first went to live among the Kouya and before we were allowed to start translating the New Testament, we had to demonstrate that we knew something about Kouya culture. We spent a long time chatting to people, doing some informal interviews, and taking part in village life. Eventually we gathered enough information to allow us to write some ethnographic articles about Kouya life and culture. You can find some of them here, if you are interested.

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There are no ‘World Religions’!

Christian mission often finds itself up against ‘world religions’. We have been told, since year dot (when we were toddlers), that there is a set of eleven or so ‘world religions’, of which Christianity is one. Those who told us this, didn’t seem to have any qualms about its truth.

When we believe the above, we see mission as doing our bit for Christianity, against other ‘world religions’. When we look in the bookshops, we find lots of books on the shelves telling us about those other religions. We think that is helpful, because if we can understand them better, that should help us to convince them that Christianity is ‘better’. At the same time we wonder – if there are so many world religions; then how can we be sure that ‘ours’ is the best?

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Chaos, fear, pain, anger – then Jesus came!

Britain sustained three home-grown terrorist attacks in 3 months. While the nation reeled the inferno at Grenfell Tower happened; the majority of victims were Muslim. Yet the Bible insists that even in despair God gives ‘treasure in darkness’ as a sign of the Kingdom breaking in. The media marvelled but couldn’t quite explain the impromptu solidarity – here’s some evidence of it.

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Reverse Missiology: An Introduction

Passion for Mission Speaker 2017 Israel Olofinjana writes on the concept of “reverse mission”, which is becoming more and more relevant for the church today.

If you live in an urban part of the UK, you have probably noticed the many African, Latin American, Caribbean and Asian churches and Christians in Britain. Perhaps you’ve wondered why all these people are coming and starting churches in the UK?

One popular phrase used to describe this activity is ‘reverse mission’, but what is reverse mission, and why is it a controversial term?Read more

“Chrexit”

A brief and thought provoking post from Glenn Myers this week about the future of Christianity in our country.

It’s not news that our country has long been heading away from the Christian faith, changing our laws and norms, a sort of ‘Chrexit’.

But what do we Christians do about it? This kind of thing has happened before.Read more

Europe on the cusp of 2017

In the last two years mission in Europe has received unprecedented attention. But where is the continent on the cusp of 2017? The most dramatic aspect of Jim Memory’s (ECM & Redcliffe College) research into European history has been the recognition that for much of the last six hundred years Europe has been in one crisis after another. The relatively peaceful era since 1945 has been an exception and all of us who are living in Europe have benefitted from this. However, the recent past may not be a path for the immediate future. Why not?Read more