What are the Alternatives?

Sitting in one Starbucks, looking across the street at another.

Sitting in one Starbucks, looking across the street at another.

Most of the time, when people make decisions, they’re not really choosing from among all the options. Call the filters, call them limitations; but things like popularity, availability, accessibility, cost, visibility, availability, and ignorance all come into play- narrowing the field of choices to (usually) just a few. Many of us who would like to see things change find ourselves pointing out the problems of a broken system. But those who are involved in the system, especially those who are invested in it, tend to stick with it because they don’t see any alternatives. The current, broken system is better than nothing, right?

  • Why do so many churches treat missions as just another program of the church?
  • Why do we pile kids into a church van, drive to an Indian Reservation to do Backyard Bible Clubs and call it “missions?”
  • Why are so few churches actively and directly engaged in planting the gospel among people who don’t know and believe it?
  • Why do missionaries treat partner churches like volunteer labor or children to be babysat?
  • Why do some only consider ministry among “unreached” people groups to me missions?
  • What are the alternatives? In each of these cases, churches and individuals act according to what they’ve been taught. They do what others are doing, they do what they think they can. They go where they think finances, prudence, and church leadership will allow. They spend what they think they can afford. They act when they think it will help them. They don’t always even know why they do what they do (and don’t don what they don’t do.)

    We need alternatives. We need to know about churches the orient their entire existence around the mission. About the value of humanitarian trips to our obedience as believers. That the Great Commission is the church’s responsibility. How churches can do so much more than paint houses and prayerwalk. That the people groups of the world are not static, and that obedience is the best  strategy. If we don’t know, it’s unlikely that we’ll do anything different.

    Tradecraft

    Tradecraft is the set of skills one acquires though experience in a particular trade. Seasoned businessmen know how to properly vet new leadership. Exceptional communicators are aware of their tone, gestures, volume, and cadence because they know that delivery is as important as content. Good authors don’t forget pay attention to the details that make their stories believable. The master carpenter learns to measure with stock rather than a tape. A chef learns not to “measure” at all. Spies quickly learn to handle valuable information carefully in hostile environments. For the pros, these “little tricks” become force of habit. When your livelihood depends on results, you develop good tradecraft.

    Missionaries are rarely taught tradecraft. They learn about people groups and theology and such, but rarely does arrive on the field mean the kind of old-pro-to-idealistic-newbie kind of real-world training a person needs to be effective in cross-cultural ministry. The result is a huge learning curve and lots of ruined missionaries.

    If I were going to make a missionary tradecraft handbook (and maybe I will one of these days), it would include:

    • How to have a long and meaningful conversation in an unfamiliar environment with someone you’ve just met.
    • How to learn language. Most missionaries only learn how speak a language. Good tradecraft would include mastery of the art of language learning.
    • On-the-spot profiling. When the police do it, profiling is bad. When missionaries do it, they’re able to communicate more appropriately with their audience by contextualizing their behavior, speech, and social posture. This skill also helps missionaries avoid bad situations, neighborhoods, and scams. When everything is strange to you, it’s really hard to distinguish between different and bad.
    • Efficient and effective online communication. Believe it or not, many missionaries still spend hours printing monthly newsletters and stuffing envelopes. In the good ol’ days, this was good tradecraft. Today, it’s time-consuming, slow, and counter-productive.
    • How to share the gospel. Talk to any old-timer on the mission field and he’ll demonstrate his preferred way to “present the gospel.” Through experience, insight, and personal interactions, he’s developed a way to talk about Jesus that he’s comfortable with and is sure to make sense to whoever it is he’s talking to. He practices this “presentation” on a regular basis.
    • Filters for “good” information and “not as good” information.
    • A “Spider-sense” for evil. Missionaries live in spiritually dangerous places. The ones who survive are keenly in tune with the supernatural world around them, and have a well-developed sense for when the enemy is present and active. He positions himself for obedience- to stand, watch, and pray, or to run.
    • Someone you can trust. Through crises, doubt, discouragement, boredom, sin, success, and celebration, it’s good tradecraft to have a trustworthy friend.

    Marketing Missions

    Missionaries sometimes have a difficult time getting the attention of the busy (and distracted) churches that send them. It’s really hard to compete with the flashy ad campaigns of nonprofits that have contractually-obligated celebrity endorsements and seemingly limitless resources. Costly partnerships in intangible work with unreliable results can be a hard sell. Sometimes, ministry just isn’t cool.

    The answer? Marketing. Missionaries (and their advocates) present their work in ways that grab attention and pull at heart strings- even if it means defying logic (or sound theology).

    Consider the “10/40 Window,” that so-called “Final Frontier” of evangelical missions. It’s finite, measurable, and descriptive. It’s marketing. It establishes a first-tier of priority “no one deserves to hear twice until all these unreached people have had the opportunity to hear once.” Of course, a “10/40 window” focus comes at the expense of those people groups unfortunate enough to live too far north or south. It also overlooks the fact that Christianity was born in the heart of this very “window.” But it doesn’t matter, because the concept has served to focus the missionary efforts of the American church like never before.

    Really, it’s all marketing. The difficulty of life on the field. The prayer card photo of the (large) missionary family all dressed alike. The personal stories. The prayer requests. The tales of hardships. The mythology of the martyrs. The photos of people who are so obviously different from us, the clearly depicted need.

    Missions cannot be separated from the marketing it depends on. Too bad so much of it is a poor knockoff of the tactics employed by the world in the pre-electronic age. I’m praying for new marketers for missions. People who can cast vision for lived transformed, for redemptive relationships that shape culture through radical Christ-centralization. I’d love to see missions marketed as “This is what you were made to do. Anything else will leave you frustrated, unfulfilled, and wanting.” We need a campaign that emphasizes the supernatural element and God’s divine orchestration of people and resources. Something interactive and engaging- a way to get the word out that doesn’t feel manipulative, competitive, or revisionist.

    Until then, won’t you join me in praying that the Lord of the Harvest would send more workers?

    A Hundred Different Directions

    advertising-quiz-250x150You’ve worked hard to build a missions-minded church. You have a couple that are really excited about ministry in Indonesia. You have a young lady who’s been to Kenya over a dozen times. Your church has planted churches in inner-city Detroit and suburban Ohio. You take mission trips to Nicaragua and Lisbon every year. You sponsor needy children through Compassion. Every other Saturday, you send people to volunteer at the rescue mission. You’ve sent out missionaries to Wales, Yemen, Ecuador, and Belarus. Your church does missions. You’re going in a hundred different directions.

    With an endless number of opportunities for service and overwhelming need all around, it can be hard to know what to get involved in. You’ve been sure to teach your people to be involved in service and to be missional, so they are. Odds are, you’ve got people involved in everything from digging wells in Africa to literacy programs among the urban poor.

    But is missions a point of division for your church?  Each ministry requires time and money. That couple who started a ministry to homeless teenagers is always asking for time at the end of your worship service to share about the work. Your international missionaries plea for money, the orphanage advocates need volunteers. You’ve got fundraiser dinners for student mission trips, canned-good drives for immigrants and refugees, and gift-card collections every Christmas. The people involved in each ministry think you need to give more time from the pulpit to their causes. They feel that money spent on other things would be better spent in support of their work. They resent the “apathy” they see in everyone else (who are likely involved in their own ministries), and they judge the attention given to less crucial activities. They accuse you of playing favorites when you fail to mention their charity concerts and bake sales. They compete for the church’s time and attention. Sure everyone is “on mission,” but everyone is on a different mission. You end up divided, overwhelmed, and less effective than you ought to be.

    How do you decide what to say “yes” to, and what’s a “no?” Does your pastoral staff make the decisions? Do you have a missions pastor? Does everything go to a committee? Most churches arrive at their missions involvement through democratic consumerism; individuals somehow hear about a ministry and decide that it’s something the church should get excited about. The opportunities that get the most votes win. The church is influenced by slick marketing on the part of missionaries and nonprofit organizations. They follow the latest trends, looking to rock stars and former celebrities for guidance on what to support. “Missions” becomes buying a T-shirt, going on a trip, dropping money in a beggar’s cup. Where’s the unity in this? What’s the theology behind it? How can your church be unified in its efforts?

    The answer isn’t to ask people to back off their involvement in any particular area. Instead, consider revisiting the basics of your church’s missiological priorities and values. Do an in-depth study of the biblical foundation for missions. Highlight examples of ministry opportunities that reflect those values, and warn your people against things that might be a distraction. Provide your church with a common vocabulary to talk about these things. Explore the gifts, resources, and interests within your faith community. Emphasize commitment, sacrifice, obedience, blessing, and love. Explain the purpose of our presence.

    Given some principles, your church members will be able to make smart choices based on the priorities you help establish. They’ll be able to avoid unhealthy distinctions between “social” ministries and strictly “spiritual” ones. They won’t be tempted to put the plight of depressed suburban teenagers on the same level as that of children dying from easily preventable diseases. They won’t focus so heavily on evangelism that they miss the discipleship we’re commissioned to do. Reproducing “what works back home” won’t be as attractive to them. Throwing money at a problem will cease to assuage their sense of guilt. They won’t buy into the lie that missions is about “suffering for Jesus” or fall for the convenience of outsourcing missions. They’ll finally be free of the three boxes- “Pray, Give, or Go.”

    With a common understanding, your church can be unified in its mission endeavors. You may still be involved in different types of ministry in different parts of the world, but you’ll be united in your understanding of the part you play. You’ll have established criteria for what gets mentioned during worship gatherings and what gets financial support. You’ll be able to say “no” without feeling guilty. Missions will have meaning; it can be your reputation in your community, and the focus of your unity. Instead of going in a hundred different directions, it’ll seem like your just going in one.

    Expectations

    Most negative missions experiences are due to unrealistic expectations. (This, of course, is a wildly unsubstantiated claim based on my limited experience and no formal research whatsoever.) It usually goes something like this:

    “Yay, we’re going to be missionaries! We love the nations! God’s glory! Passion! Finish the task”

    Then, “It’s okay to be uncomfortable. Different isn’t necessarily bad. We can do this.”

    Finally, “I’m just not cut out for missions. The missionaries here aren’t cut out for missions. I’m never leaving home again.”

    Expectations are a funny thing. We use them to motivate people to do missions in the first place- “It’ll change your life,” we tell them. “God has something special for you,” we say. Short-termers, career missionaries, volunteers- we set them up for disappointment by telling them missions will be a great experience. Or hard. Or spiritually significant. Or life-altering. But then, for whatever reason, it’s none of those things.

    Environmental expectations are a big one. We had volunteers come through Western Europe and complain that it was too, “developed.”  Trippers on “extreme teams” in the remote jungles of countries you’ve never heard of come back feeling like failures for not having used their emergency survival kits. “We were hoping to get to go into holy city…” “We weren’t able to make contact with the imam…” “We thought there was going to be greater opposition…”

    Nearly every “missionary” has a change in job/role/purpose over the course of service. “Originally, we were going to work in a medical clinic.” “We went over there to do sports camps, but…” “I was supposed to be the strategy coordinator…” This can have a profound effect on a person’s sense of  and the value of his/her contribution.

    And then there’s the expectation of numbers. Talk to anyone who’s been on a mission trip, and you’re likely to hear, “We didn’t get to see any churches planted” or “We only saw thirteen people come to faith.”

    On the one hand, you don’t want people to go on a trip with low expectations (it is God we’re talking about, after all). But even lowering expectations can hurt the experience. We used to tell volunteers that they were unlikely to see professions of faith. Then, when the volunteers did actually see people get saved, they immediately assumed that we, the missionaries, didn’t know what we were doing. “It was easy,” I remember one young lady saying. “I don’t know why your team has to make it so complicated.” She didn’t come back because she wanted to go somewhere where “the soil might be harder.”

    On the other hand, expectations tend to be what get people to spend their vacation time prayerwalking in Bangladesh rather than sitting on the beaches of Hawaii. People expect to help. They expect to see that all of this “missions” stuff isn’t just a waste of time. In order to mobilize people, we tell them that they can make a difference. We promise (directly or indirectly) that they can be part of “God’s global mission.” Then, if they don’t “see it,” they’re disillusioned disappointed, and inoculated against missions in the future. These are the people who say, “But there are lost and needy people in my own neighborhood.” They’re the ones who stop sending money to missions agencies and organizations. The ones who don’t believe in “missions.”

    For those who might overspiritualize (William Carey, I’m looking at you), saying “expect great things from God,” I’d remind you even “great things” can be an unrealistic expectation. Though our church culture might discourage it, many people return from the mission field lamenting the fact that they didn’t see God do anything “great.” Sure that’s a matter of perspective, but how can we be sure people aren’t discouraged to the point of (however disobediently) abandoning missions altogether for something they see as “making a difference”?

    If you’ve been on a mission trip (or if you’ve been a missionary) and had a bad experience, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you felt like your participation wasn’t valued. I’m sorry that you felt like time and money were misspent. I apologize for missionaries who didn’t have their acts together, treated you like children, or were just generally clueless. I regret that you didn’t get to see whatever it was you were hoping to see. I feel your pain when you had to report back to your church that your time on the field was unproductive. I can relate to those of you who felt called to mission with a vison for churches being planted and lives being changed, but saw little (if any) of that come to pass.

    Don’t be discouraged. Don’t let the pragmatists, the acheivers, or the falsely humble tell you that your contribution didn’t matter. Don’t allow those who think they can quantify and engineer “success” label you a failure. If you had a bad experience, go again. Next time might be different. Or, maybe not. Either way, you’re going because we serve a God who goes and commands us to go as well. We go because it’s what we do, who we are.

    The Ethics of Observation

    293294590_c5d0415115Dirty, sick orphans living in garbage dumps in South America.

    Malnourished children in desolate African villages.

    Underground house churches in outer Chinese provinces.

    Sex slaves lining the street in a Thailand slum.

    A burgeoning pub church in Western Europe.

    What do these scenes have in common? Streams of Christians on mission trips.

    In an effort to raise awareness and develop partnerships, missionaries, humanitarian aid workers, social activists, and nationals are bringing in busloads of American churchgoers to get a first-hand look at the terrible realities in which they minister. You can talk about the need, but when a megachurch pastor wades through the cesspool that villagers drink from, it really hits home. You can show pictures, but a five-minute interaction with starving children is a wake-up call. You can tell stories, but a silent worship service with persecuted Christians is the perfect object lesson. Heartstrings are pulled. Dots are connected. (Purse strings are loosed.)

    But what effect does the observation have on a mission field? How does and endless string of guests and visitors affect the dynamics of a church plant? What do the persecuted and enslaved think of the mission trip tourists?

    I believe in the power of first-hand experience. I think that every point of contact, every interaction is an opportunity to demonstrate Christ’s love and compassion. I think that a little bit of help is better than no help at all. Still, it feels like the worst kind of Christian consumerism- where church leaders shop for mission opportunities that fit their budgets and time schedules and will play well with their target demographics. I’d hate to see us get to the point when churches focused on the plight of poverty-stricken children decide to get involved in with street kids in India only because the hotel facilities there were more comfortable than the ones near the orphanages in Uganda. If your vision trip leaves you with creative mission trip t-shirt designs rather than creative solutions for the desperate situations people find themselves in, we’re missing something.

    Are we there yet? Hopefully, no. What can we do to avoid it?

    • For starters, be sure that it’s God (and not the latest craze or what you feel your church might be ready for) that guides our missions involvement.
    • Recognize the importance of relationships in ministry. If your church as a missionary sent out already, pursue long-term involvement in that ministry before you start something new.
    • Stay committed. Don’t hop around from place to place and cause to cause. If your people are bored, don’t foster their ministerial ADD by switching to a mission field that might seem sexier.
    • Don’t ever be just an observer. If you interact with people in need, love them. For every photo you snap, spend time talking to and praying with people.
    • Refuse to tell any story that isn’t true. Call it a “mobilization technique” if you want, but exaggerating numbers, and dramatizing risk is just lying. It creates false expectations and fuels the unhealthy comparison of mission fields and people groups.
    • Focus on the Church. Planting a healthy, missional, indigenous church should be the goal of every mission endeavor. Meeting basic human needs is important. Building dependence and leaving spiritual orphans is irresponsible.

    If you have the opportunity to go on a mission trip, there’s no excuse not to. Just know that it isn’t enough to observe poverty, slavery, oppression, and lostness. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Awareness brings responsibility.

    Contextualization

    Contextualization is the active work of translating the gospel into a culture that doesn’t have an indigenous expression of Christianity. The problem is that we all seem to be “contextualizing” for a culture that we don’t live in. We all look alike because we were all mentored by the same six guys (John, Rick, Mark, Brian, Tim, and Andy). We look like them because we know we don’t want to look like where we came from. We assume that if it seems new and cool and more biblically sound than whatever it is we’re reacting to, that it’s suitable for the context in which we minister.

    Slapping a new coat of paint on the same old conventions is not contextualization. We need to be sure we’re contextualizing for the context to which we’re called- the ones in which we find ourselves. It won’t do to make your church look like someone else’s. You can’t just steal somebody else’s sermon. You can’t pipe in a great speaker who doesn’t know your context. You must be an expert in the people to whom you minister.

    If you don’t do the missionary work of contextualization, you still can grow your church. But it won’t belong to the culture in which it’s planted. In order to be discipled in the foreign system you set up, people will have to first be converted to your culture- the one you imported from Grapevine, Texas, or Minneapolis, Minnesota, or Seattle, Washington. Then, you’ll find yourself having to train people to interact with the culture from which you’ve extracted them.

    Which is the point, really- contextualization should be worked into the essence of every expression of Christianity. It is the key to indigenous church, and it is the key to communicating the gospel in a way that connects with your audience.

    So you should wear cool glasses. If you have hair, you should either spike it up or grow it out. If you can handle a neckbeard, that’d be good. Do your best to squeeze into skinny jeans. Find a keffiyeh, and wear it even when it’s 90 degrees out. Watch Lost and 30 Rock. Talk about when Grey’s Anatomy jumped the shark. Become a vegan, or at least a part-time vegetarian. Listen to hip-hop, indie bands, alt-country, and  Drink fair trade coffee-with organic soy milk, of course. You also need to ride a fixed-gear bike, smoke a cigars, drink microbrewed beer, and play hours of video games. Get a Mac, and talk about how long it’s been since you even tried using a PC. Oh, and an iPhone. You definitely need an iPhone.

    Why? Contextualization, of course. But to which context?

    My point is this: contextualization isn’t looking like the culture; it’s having lived in the culture. It’s how you think and communicate after putting yourself in someone else’s shoes for a while. Knowing the way it feels. Understanding how people treat you when you’re one of them. The experience is what makes you able to translate the gospel into a (sub)culture in a way that makes sense to the people who live there.

    If you’re ministering to the homeless, you might try spending a night (or a month) on the street. If you’re in a community of Arabs, you should consider praying 5 times a day, seasoning your conversation with, “God willing,” and skipping the pulled-pork sandwich. Not to fool them into thinking you’re the same as them. You’re not. But until you’ve put yourself in their shoes, you really don’t have any idea what life it like for them- what’s important to them, what speaks to them, how they see you as an outsider.

    Lugging around a camera doesn’t make you an artist, but it might help you understand one. Understanding one is key to communicating with him. Communicating with him is the key to sharing the gospel with him in a way that he can understand and respond to.

    Missions Motivation

    “If you really cared about the unreached peoples of the world, you’d be more involved in missions.”

    “If you truly understood the Great Commission, you’d be a missionary.”

    “If only you were made aware of the opportunities to share the gospel, you’d go on a mission trip.”

    “If you honestly saw the need, felt the urgency, or recognized the importance of the task, you’d be more supportive of missions.”

    Guilt, obligation, shame. This is how we motivate people to do missions. In a condescending and patronizing tone, we declare the people in the pews ignorant, apathetic, and lazy. We judge them to be sinful.

    The thing is, guilt, fear, judgment, and shame aren’t the best motivators. Don’t get me wrong- they work just fine. For thousands upon thousands of people, a mission trip started with a guilt trip. But a person who’s been motivated this way will always default to acting out of obligation. She’ll get involved, but it will be because feels like she has to. Every decision along the way is a blind stab in the dark in search of “what works” or “what makes me look busy enough that I don’t risk loosing my support.”

    The best motivation for missions is inspiration.

    “You can make a difference in someone’s life.”

    “This is what you were made for. It’s your destiny.”

    “This is something that really matters.”

    “You can be part of something that will provide profound connection to God and to others.”

    When someone’s been inspired to missions, they live for it. Every decision is made in light of the vision they have for God’s redemption of the world. These are the people that throw themselves into relationships and work backward from the vision to develop progressive strategies toward the goal. We need inspired missionaries, not reluctant ones that constantly need to be convinced and cajoled.

    In Matthew 24, Jesus gives us a glimpse into the future- a future where people from every tribe are worshipping at the throne of the most high God. The vision can be inspiring- that’s what we’re created for! We can be assured of that victory! Or, it can be twisted into a tool of manipulation: “Jesus can’t come back until you finish the task!” “Their blood is on your hands!”

    Are you motivating through inspiration?

    Everyone A Missionary?

    We’ve got to stop distinguishing between “missions” and, well, “not missions.”

    The old paradigm was this: ministry is sharing the gospel. If you preached to believers, you were called a “pastor.” If you preached to non-Christians in your own culture, you were an “evangelist.” If you needed a passport to get there, you were a “missionary.” If those distinctions were ever helpful, they certainly aren’t today. Not when “the nations” are moving in next door and going to school with your kids. Not when there is yet to be an expression of Christianity that is truly free from modern rational humanism. We’re all missionaries because there is no “home.”

    The division has resulted in “that’s not my job calling” on both sides of the divide. Many missionaries today see the church as a major distraction from their focus on evangelizing unbelieving people. Most churches outsource missions to a homely couple they send money to and pray for once a year.

    The new paradigm is simple: all Christians are missionaries. They must be, because none of us are at “home.” Even if your ministry is to a group of people that you grew up with- a group that looks, talks, and acts just like you- you must recognize that your transformation in Christ necessarily makes you an outsider- a foreigner- to even your own culture. You can’t afford to assume that you are ministering in your own context. You don’t have a context in the world anymore.

    Saying that all Christians are missionaries doesn’t mean we’re all good missionaries. Most Christians lack the skill, sensitivity, intentionality, and to truly be effective missionaries. Most Christians don’t worry about working to enter and engage culture because they think they’re already immersed in it. They may be, but the vast majority still step out of their cultures and subcultures and into an artificial “Christian” one every Sunday in order to worship and be discipled. We need missionaries.

    If you are a Prius-driving, Lego-modding Starbucks barista, you’re uniquely qualified to be the missionary to that tribe. If you’re a Mac-using, soccer-mompreneur PTA member, your job is to incarnate the gospel among your people. It’s not enough for you to just try to fit in. You were saved to live out a Christ-transformed life in the midst of your social circles. You are where you are for a purpose.

    There is no “home” and “foreign.” You are a missionary.

    Syncretism

    Syncretism is a key missiological concept that refers to the all-too common practice of overlaying one set of beliefs with another, disparate one. People often go to great lengths to reconcile different, even opposing, belief systems in order to make sense of the world around them.

    When African tribes were (forcibly) “converted” to Christianity by imperialist missionaries in the 18th century, tribal leaders responded by adding the Holy Spirit to the collection of spirits they depended on to keep them safe. As the “Holy” Roman Empire expanded, nations were assumed into it by renaming their pagan gods, saints, and feasts after Christian ones.

    This kind of syncretism is bad because it ignores the transformative power of Christ. It creates a veneer of Christianity that is devoid of the character of the Most High. The result is a broad misunderstanding of what life in Christ truly ought to be. Jesus isn’t just another prophet. Mary isn’t analogous to “Mother Earth.”

    Of course, it isn’t always the pagans adopting Christian language and imagery; syncretism works both ways. December 25 was the date of a Roman pagan festival having to do with stars long before it was selected by the Church for the celebration of Christmas. Easter wasn’t always a holiday of remembrance of Christ’s resurrection- it began as a celebration of Spring, fertility, and an Anglo-Saxon goddess called ?ostre.

    syncretismThe problem with this “reverse” syncretism is that changing the name of a holiday doesn’t necessarily replace the object of worship with Jesus the Christ. Equating freedom in Christ with political freedom grossly understates the true meaning of freedom and makes too much of the worldly version.

    Adopting cultural forms and methodologies without retaining a prophetic voice is syncretistic mimicry. But interjecting the God narrative into the culture is different from syncretism.  As Christians engage the cultures in which they live, they retell the culture’s stories back to it from God’s perspective.

    The culture’s worship looks to the stars? We can’t say, “At least you’re looking up!”  We can say, “Let me tell you about the star that led wise men from the East to worship a baby in a feed trough.”

    The culture celebrates new beginnings? It isn’t enough to encourage that celebration- we must point people to Jesus, whose resurrection makes possible the ultimate new beginning for humanity and all of creation.

    Our culture values freedom? The Bill of Rights can only get you so far (and can be amended!). Only Jesus can make you truly free.

    Jesus did this with Jewish law in the “You have heard… but I say to you…” sayings of His Sermon on the Mount. Paul filled in the blanks of Athenian religion when he addressed the philosophers at the Aeropagus. It is the spiritual takeover of a worldly stronghold. This isn’t syncretism, it’s redemption; reclaiming the truth that can be found in all cultures as God’s truth.

    Image HT: Eric G. at Circular Thoughts