Discipleship

A Experimental Narrative to Ephesians 4

Well, here goes... There lives a magnificent artist and like all masters, his palate is an extension of himself. Spreading the colors of life across his palate he took up the one singular narrative of his masterpiece on one single grand canvas. Blank as it was, with each brush stroke life was brought to the canvas and the artists expressions lite up the imaginations of all who saw it.

Starting with an apostolic background the essences of the colors mixed creating variant shades that would later interconnect the dynamic articulation and contexts he would soon add to tell his story. 

With a backdrop set, the artist began adding a prophetic environment of setting and a revealing of place and time. This brought out the hidden and deeper meanings of...

A Deep Gaze Into Missional Theology and The Eschatological Gleanings From Them ~ Conclusion

As Christ followers find themselves entwined into the triunity of a relational understanding to the Trinity, the imago Dei and the imago Christi are catalyzed into a divine collision between the Kingdom of God and the world. While being elected into the apostolic community of “sent ones”, they are released into a revolutional eternal life of the missio Dei. We embrace this new identity not by our own deserving, nor by any of our own works, but as N. T. Wright states, “We are committed to describing the world not just as it should be, not just as it is, but as—by God’s grace alone![1]

It is our confession that, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith...

A Deep Gaze Into Missional Theology and The Eschatological Gleanings From Them ~ Pt. #5 ~ Fun Houses and the True Identity of the Ekklesia

As a boy I used to love going to the local fair and exploring the fun houses and the glass maze. I would sometimes spend hours feeling my way through the glass and mirrors till I reached the top of the house and the maze broke way to a large open room filled with funny mirrors. They were curved and warped so that when I stood in front of them they would distort my image and I’d look really short and fat or tall and super skinny. I’d laugh with my friends, point at their funny images, and strike poses for my own amusement. Looking back, there was a certain degree of reality within those moments in the fun houses. Paul shares with the church in Corinth that, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.”[1] He was articulating that as we grow in the maturity of Christ, we do not fully comprehend all that the Kingdom of God wishes us to see...

A Deep Gaze Into Missional Theology and The Eschatological Gleanings From Them ~ Pt. #4 ~ The Great Collide: The Intertwining Kingdom of God with the World

The taking up of the call into discipleship and an ecclesiology of death through the embrace of the imago Christi is not without its benefits either. In a great book by Sylvia Keesmaat and Brian Walsh called ‘Colosians Remixed’, they share that, “In Christ we have come to say to the darkness, ‘We beg to differ.’ We have seceded from the empire of darkness and been granted citizenship in the Kingdom of the beloved Son.”[1] Finding ourselves in citizenship as part of God’s Kingdom brings a great freedom to our interactions within the world as N.T. Wright observes that, “The kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world come together to produce a vision of history moving forward toward its goal, a goal that will emerge from within...

A Deep Gaze Into Missional Theology and The Eschatological Gleanings From Them ~ Pt. #3 ~ Missiology in Apostolic Actions of Dominion

Within the relational Trinitarian order, witnessing the apostolic sending of each agent over one another cannot be dismissed as evident. Without a specific order scripture articulates the diverse places each agent interacts and is sent into creation; from the Spirit hovering over the waters of creation,[1] to the Father dwelling within a burning bush,[2] to the Son being sent to fulfill the law;[3] God acts apostolically within his identity and creation to fulfill his mission. In the same sense, we cannot separate the missio Dei from the creational order of the imago Dei as God created us in his image for the purposes of dominion.[4] By the most natural sense our, “Doxological response means participation in and transformation...

A Deep Gaze Into Missional Theology and The Eschatological Gleanings From Them ~ An Introduction

There is an old quote by Fredrick Nietzsche that says, “If you gaze long enough into the abyss, the abyss will also gaze into you.” While I have spent much time in the last few months meditating and reading into the issues of understanding the Trinity, missional theology, and there eschatological implications; I feel greatly inadequate or unqualified in endeavoring to add my own comments to such a deep conversation. Still, in doing so I have found the long gaze of these same subjects looking back into my own life and community with some phenomenal insights. In this series of posts it is my hope to explore some of the historical understandings of the Trinity while arguing for a relative theological definition to my own stance...

Future Steps Towards The Edge - Pt. #5 - Conclusion - Pilgrims and Fellow Sojourners in the Missio Dei

Standing-on-the-edge Michael Horton wrote once that,

“There is a significant origin and end point to history, within which we ourselves are cast members. It is a courtroom drama in which we are either false or true witnesses, “in Adam” or “in Christ,” justified or condemned, alive or dead.

Neither masters nor tourists, we become pilgrims.

Unlike masters, pilgrims have not arrived and they do not presume to inaugurate their own kingdoms of glory. They don’t have all the answers and they are not exactly sure what their destination city will be like; they are driven by a promise and by God’s fulfillment of his promise along the way. Yet unlike tourists, they are on their way to a settled place and every point along the way is a landmark toward that destination.”

Sojourning with the tribes of The Edge has without a doubt brought great joy in my life and as Horton points out, shown me “landmarks toward that destination” we endeavor to journey towards together. Bevans and Schroeder say that, "Christians are incorporated into the divine life and experience a foretaste of the world's destiny of full communion with God, with one another and with all of creation."[1] It is my hope we too will also experience this uniting communion together, so as to become all that which God wishes us to become.

My hope is in sharing this that we will see these challenges not as critiques or divisions, but as opportunities to greater engage in the mission of God as he has called upon us as one unified movement. I know that together I dream of the day that we are all Living the Life of Jesus Within the Lives of Others to The Edge and beyond this world!!

[1] Bevans, Stephen B., and Roger Schroeder. Constants in Context: A Theology of Mission for Today. (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2004) Pg. #299.

Further Steps Towards The Edge - Pt. #4 - Creating an External Vision for Dreaming Dreams and Seeing Visions

Out There“I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day this [movement] will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed:”[1] to be Living the Life of Jesus Within the Lives of Others! Ok, so I took some creative freedoms in sharing Martin Luther King’s famous words. There is such an inspiring force to them though as we contemplate the significance of dreams and visions in the mission of God. The apostle Peter knew that too, as he quoted the prophet Joel, “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”[2] God’s mission is bigger then just any one movement. The old saying is true that, “It is not so much that God’s Church has a mission as much as it is that God’s mission has a church.” We cannot limit the vision of The Edge or the dreams we might have of its future solely to the internal voice of self-reason. Lesslie Newbigin writes that, “the Spirit who thus bears witness in the life of the Church to the purpose of the Father is not confined within the limits of the Church. It is the clear teaching of the Acts of the Apostles, as it is the experience of missionaries, that the Spirit goes, so to speak, ahead of the church.”[3]

The challenge brought to The Edge is a willingness for all of our leadership to seek inspiration not solely from its internal practices of The Edge and our Cultural Discipling Rhythms, but from those outside of its identity who might be of like-mindedness. While maintaining the cultural discipling rhythms of Investing, Involving, and Inspiring, we can find inspiration and wisdom from other missionally focused movements that might strengthen, build, and equip our own covenantal practices and understandings of them. Holding our own beliefs and practices in open form to the greater community of missional groups, not only creates a communicative dialogue between movements that would shape our own, but also open doors of collaboration and the ability for us to shape other movements around us. This is not dismissing the solidarity of our own cultural rhythms in discipleship but rather transcending them to the greater movement of the mission of God as a whole.

In the practicalities of this we need to explore the questions of what are the other missional movements around us that resonate with our own? How might we begin a dialogue with them towards mutual collaboration? Are we willing to let them speak into our cultural rhythms in the pursuit of “dreaming dreams and seeing visions”? What practices of accountability would we expect upon our leadership in participation?

[1] Kouzes, James M., and Barry Z. Posner. The Leadership Challenge. 3rd ed. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002) Pg. #145.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ac 2:17). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] Bevans, Stephen B., and Roger Schroeder. Constants in Context: A Theology of Mission for Today. (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2004) Pg. #297.

Further Steps Towards The Edge - Pt. #3 - Creating a Central Unity for a Culture of Rhythms in Discipling

Heart RhythmsOver the last several months Desmond Tutu’s words from his book ‘No Future Without Forgiveness’ has been resonating in my thoughts. He said, “‘My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.’ We belong in a bundle of life. We say, ‘A person is a person through other persons.’ It is not, ‘I think therefore I am.’ It says rather: ‘I am human because I belong. I participate, I share.’”[1] It is a natural rhythm of breathing in and out the life presence of Jesus as we find a sort of organic communal covenant relationship with him that begins our discipling practices and says we belong both to him and to each other. So what are the rhythms that we practice to which announce our belonging to The Edge Movement? There seems to be three spheres of discipleship that naturally form in our culture. While each may find different expressions between the tribes, The Edge focuses around the converging practices of Investing, Involving, and Inspiring the lives of its members. It is difficult to state a defining place of beginning in such a process as each sphere coexists with the other and yet each element of the three begins a radical transformation of the disciple and the community to become more entwined in the reflective life of Jesus.

Edge Discipling RhythmsThe challenge brought forth to The Edge is to recognize the interdependence we have on one another in following these rhythms. Each needs to be dynamically broadened in depth and understanding and each must be communicatively interlinked within the entire movement itself and between all the tribes. We must recognize and see them in practice through the entire network and not limited to just a limited few or solely in the leadership. How might we as collaborative leaders develop these rhythms further? How might we develop interlinking ligaments that foster stronger relationships between each tribe and between the tribal leaders?

The importance of tribal harmony is detrimental to the transmission and communicative contextualization of our discipling cultural rhythms. In Bevans and Schroeder’s words, "Like a complex fugue or polyphonic motet, God's unity is constituted by diversity and God's diversity is rooted in unity of will and purpose; the church is the church inasmuch as it has been included in that harmony."[2] As leaders in The Edge, we must make the effort to not only find a listening ear to that which God is doing in our own tribe, but also find interlinking relationships with other leaders in the movement to hear the harmony in which God is creating with the surrounding tribes. If we only are listening to our individual tribal identities and practices at the exclusion of the others, we could very easily lose track of the communal rhythm and become nothing but “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal”[3] in the midst of a struggling symphony. As God’s mission began in love for the other (John 3:16), so must ours, as we love those who we are a part of.

[1] Tutu, Desmond. No Future Without Forgiveness. (New York: Doubleday, 1999) Kindle Location 431.

[2] Bevans, Stephen B., and Roger Schroeder. Constants in Context: A Theology of Mission for Today. (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2004) Pg. #298.

[3] [3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (1 Cor. 13:1). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

 

Further Steps Towards The Edge - Pt.#2 - A Mission Built on the Foundation of Relationship

imago Dei "We are not so much individuals, as our Western culture in particular would have it, but, as images of God, deeply social and communal in nature. The perfect communication and self-giving that is God's very self is the church's deepest reality, since Christians have undergone theosis and participate in the divine nature."[1] Stephan Bevans and Roger Schroeder articulate the deep need we have to base our existence and mission in the roots of relationship. It’s not just a passion; it’s in our very nature to want discipleship on a personal and intimate level as apposed to simply being a Sunday event. We don’t want to just know about Jesus, we want to know Jesus!

After spending years with his disciples, Jesus turned to them and asked, “Who do the people say that I am?” Speculatively they answer, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Jesus, wanting to know if they really knew him then asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter, perhaps hesitant at first, states, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”[2] It is an epiphany brought only through the relational presence of living life with Jesus and the revelation of God’s Word through the daily work of the Holy Spirit.

This is the nature of The Edge’s mission – Living the Life of Jesus Within the Lives of Others. It propels us from the transformational life of simple discipleship to the apostolic life of serving the other for the greater sharing of God’s glory and Kingdom. To be a part of The Edge is to embrace this identity and mission as central to the purpose of all other endeavors.

We cannot take this mission lightly however and we must be intentional about our covenant to its calling. It is not just an individual binding of independent relationship but a communal covenant shared between ourselves and the others in the movement. As Christopher Wright shares the significance to God's act of redemption and it's role in the believer through the model of the exodus story, "The exodus was not a movement from slavery to freedom, but from slavery to covenant. Redemption was for relationship with the redeemer, to serve his interests and his purposes in the world." Our participation in God's mission is not to be out of self-propitiation or communal or personal freedom, but in the giving of ourselves to the work and pursuit of fulfilling the vision communally set before us as a Kingdom citizen.

The Edge’s mission comes with the promise of great reward and benefit through supported discipleship but also with the apostolic commissioning and responsibility to invest, be involved, and inspire our fellow brothers and sisters in the greater movement. This is the challenge left not just to the greater leadership, but all who are in covenant as tribal leaders. To do otherwise is to question whether we are truly part of the movement we call The Edge or just solely part of our own smaller independent endeavors.

Our first steps towards the future of the Edge is to explore an understanding of how we personally and communally are willing to commit and covenant to this vision as a singular movement who is Living the Life of Jesus Within the Lives of Others through Investing, Involving, and Inspiring practices. Secondarily we need to explore how this vision is then shared, expressed, and embodied, by the tribes we lead.

[1] Bevans, Stephen B., and Roger Schroeder. Constants in Context: A Theology of Mission for Today. (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2004) Pg. #298.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Mt 16:13-20). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.