Friday, July 5, 2013

Letters from Texas Part II

Several times over the last week I've encountered all sorts of Thinky Thoughts.  It's bound to happen when you spend the whole day listening to various instructors talk about big things like Worldview, and Transformational Development.  Unfortunately, by the time I'm able to sit down and blog about it, my brain has turned to mush and profundity is way beyond the scope of my ability.  I can manage I wonder what's for dinner, and Better check the bed for spiders, but that's about it.  Nevertheless, I have decided to sit down and type in hopes that some scraps of thought might settle to the bottom of my still-spinning mind, and dribble out of my fingertips and into the computer.

Ah, here's one.

The week before last, we spent some time studying the Name of God (as described in Exodus 34:6-7).  It's the name God gives Moses when he causes his glory to pass in front of him, and it consists of seven different descriptors: compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, overflowing with love and faithfulness, showing steadfast love to thousands, forgiving, and just.  No surprises there, right? God wants Moses and the Israelites (and us) to know what kind of being he is--his character--and these are the qualities he chooses to sum up all of his goodness.  Alright.  Now, keeping God's 'name' in mind, look at the command Jesus gives in Matthew 28:19 where, after having risen from the dead, he tells his followers to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit*."  Now the word "baptizing" here means "immersing," which means that Jesus is telling his followers to immerse the nations in the name of God.  What if he's not talking about dunking people in God's name as in "on his behalf," or "under his authority," but as in immersing them in his character?  Isn't that wild?  It totally turns your garden-variety missionary work on its head.  We're not supposed to be recruiting people to be on God's team.  It's not like we've got these massive clipboards with which we run around trying to get people to sign under God's name.  In fact, there's nothing in that command that says we have to make the nations do anything.  We're the ones being commanded, after all.  And what are we commanded to do?  Make disciples by simply baptizing/immersing/soaking the world with God's character (which is: compassion, grace, patience, love, faithfulness, forgiveness, and justice).  So there it is, all the beautiful simplicity of truth, and pretty much impossible to do.  At least, I could spend the rest of my life trying to do it.  I probably will.

Care to join me?

*I realize that I may have become a little Italics-happy here.  It's just my inner Miss Climpson** showing through.
**A shout out to my fellow admirers of Lord Peter Wimsey.  You know who you are.