Learning on mission

School has begun and with it routine. The flexibility and long days of summer we leave behind to embrace homework, practices, and schedules. And this is good. Summer is fantastic – don’t get me wrong, but there is always a sense of peace that comes from the routine of autumn.

My youngest has been so excited to tell me what she has learned each day in school this year. And though it’s only been a couple weeks, the eagerness with which she shares her day is far greater than any other start of a school year. And maybe it’s because she is a year older and she knew her teacher before she started, or maybe it’s because the material she is learning is that much more exciting (props to Lizzie W.), or maybe it is just because she has a desire to learn this year more so than any other. Whatever the reason, to hear her sing about evaporation, gravity, and metamorphosis is quite captivating. I mean, she’s six.

Learning Jesus is the fourth habit in Michael Frost’s Surprise the World.  He describes this habit as totally marinating ourselves in the work and words of Jesus. Most Christians are aware of what he calls Jesus’ greatest hits (birth, death, resurrection, a few miracles, and a couple parables), however by learning these main points of Jesus life we have boiled him down to a sacrificial lamb. And though he is this, we lose a big part of His usefulness in our lives today if that is the only thing He is to us. For it is right and good and true that I believe he took away my sin on the cross and rose again so that I might live. However believing that makes no difference as to who I might call upon for help when I am struggling being the best wife I might be. Knowing that I can live with him in heaven someday doesn’t help me today when I lose my temper and yell at my kids.

What I learned from chapter 6 in particular as well as other sources that I’ve studied from recently is that Jesus was the smartest man that ever walked the earth. And yet if I ask myself who I get my answers from to life’s problems, I would have to say that for most of my life it’s been other people, lyrics from songs, inspiring books, teachers, etc.  And though these aren’t bad, if I don’t believe that Jesus understands my life and or know all about our universe then I don’t trust Him with the things that are important to me. And if I don’t trust him, then I can’t believe he is competent to handle my day-to-day problems. Therefore I turn to other sources.

In my mind I can think of Jesus words as either “pretty words” or as words to bet my life on.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs IS the kingdom of heaven” Matt 5:3

“This poor widow has put in MORE than all the others” Luke 21:3

“Whoever loses their life will save it” Luke 9:24

“Whoever obeys my word, will never taste death!” John 8:51

These are all strong statements. How can He say the widow who put in two coins put in more? And how can He say those who obey will not die?  It’s obvious he speaks from a different worldview. He sees the world beyond just the physical. His reality is the full world, not a world through mere human eyes.

So to learn Jesus, I must spend time viewing the world through His eyes. As Dallas Willard says in The Divine Conspiracy, many Christians “have faith in faith but little faith in God, and they may believe in believing but not able to rely on God, and who love ‘love’ but in practice are unable to love real people”.

Too often I’ve read the Bible for facts instead of looking to know God.  But this chapter among other things has inspired me to marinate myself in the work and words of Jesus to this end: that I may be transformed into a person who believes the things about God and the world and life that Jesus believed.  I am excited to read the Bible differently. I hope I am as eager as my daughter when she sings her science song. But more than that, I pray I believe the things Jesus believed as strongly as I believe in gravity. I pray we all will come to know Him as more than just a sacrificial lamb. For if he truly “created all things and holds the world together” (Col 1:16,17) then maybe he knew how to molecularly change water into wine, interrupt weather patterns, and transform the human body from sickness to health, as Willard points out in his book. And maybe just maybe I will start trusting that he can help me as I work out problems at work, at home, and at play. Not just a sacrificial lamb but also a brilliant teacher. Let’s learn.

Andrea Tappe

Life on Mission

A new congregation of believers is emerging among the middle-class in the city of Huambo, Angola. We join several families for worship and study on Sunday afternoons. They are dual-income families and single mothers working hard to make ends meet during a nation-wide financial crisis. They want the best for their children, so they put them in private schools, take them to gymnastics and academic clubs, and seek the best health care available – often traveling abroad to find it. They have struggling marriages and extensive obligations to extended family. They are seeking God in a fast-paced, urban environment. They are busy. I’m sure you can identify.

We call this body of believers Renovo, a name that reminds us that we are not to be conformed to the world’s way of doing life. Instead we are to be transformed, renewing our way of thinking and doing life God’s way (Romans 12:2). Week by week Renovo is being transformed as we read the word, help each other to understand God’s way and obey it. We are there to encourage and be encouraged. Our time together is invaluable and I often leave a gathering in awe of God’s presence and overwhelmed by how much more there is to share about his love, mindful of the importance of being with the church. Sadly, our time together is limited by our fast paced urban lifestyle and our cultural obligations. It shouldn’t be. That’s the world’s way of doing life. 

When my lifestyle feels hectic, going to a women’s prayer meeting feels inconvenient, or I just don’t feel like speaking Portuguese that day, I remind myself of the value of meeting with the church and that motivates me to go be with my church family. I want to model this for my brothers and sisters in a transparent way, sharing my struggles and weaknesses, so that we can encourage one another to be obedient to God’s call to a transformed lifestyle in this busy and distracted world.

What lifestyle changes will we make and what perceived cultural obligations will we sacrifice for the sake of the church and the name of Jesus?

I don’t use the Message very often, but this is right on.

Romans 12:1-2 MSG

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary lifeyour sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around lifeand place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Dont become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. Youll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.


Teague Meyer