<%image(20050228-bible open.jpg|132|112|Bible)%> Following up on yesterday’s post regarding the incarnational character of the church that causes it to go out into the world and make disciples, I had an epiphany of sorts that kept me up until 2 am. In reflecting on what must occur while we bring the kingdom of God to our world, it hit me that reading the Bible, prayer, and theological reflection must occur while we are incarnating the love of Christ to the world.
The placement of “reflection upon God” (my replacement of the term “theology”) in the mission or “going” of the church has its roots in Darrell Guder’s book, Missional Church. While long on theory at times, I find that his thinking tends to be quite spot-on. Guder states that the church pursues Bible study while on the go, advancing God’s kingdom.
<%image(20050228-missional church.jpg|93|140|Missional Church)%>
I think that such a notion has really tapped into something that has been missing in my life, especially while soaking in so much at seminary these past 3 1/2 years. Some have said that Christians who get too comfortable just sit, soak, and sour. As we immerse ourselves in the Bible and learn more and more about God, we find ourselves debating minutae about our Christian faith. If we have nowhere to take our message and share it, we might as well beat each other up over it.
One picture that I have in my mind is a latter episode in the Band of Brothers DVD series. At the conclusion of the war, there are large numbers of fired up American soldiers with ammunition and too much free time. They find themselves getting into all kinds of trouble because the task of fighting a war, the one reason why they were on the other side of the world, was no longer necessary. In the same way we can misuse the scriptures to cause trouble within the Christian camp. Though we are not fighting against the world per se, we do have a specific mission that we must devote our lives to. The Bible has been given to us so that we might know God, but also make him known.
Another image I have is that of a well. Just like the woman in the Gospel of John, we are surrounded by people who need the living water of God. Every day Christians should be filling up on Jesus and the words of God. But wells are placed near people not just to be full, but to quench thirst. In addition, a well is completely useless unless it is filled up with water on a regular basis.
Therefore I find a few principles at work. Studying the Bible takes on renewed life and importance if we are going out to share God’s love with others. First of all, if we aim to minister to others, we must know that we have nothing to give on our own. Only God can fill us up with what is necessary for the task at hand. Secondly, we can read, study, pray, etc. knowing that we are not only blessing ourselves, but we are preparing ourselves to bless others.
May we drink deeply of the life of God so that many will be filled with living water.