Sunday, January 25, 2015

Go Into All the World

The Great Commission of Christ:

"Go everywhere, teach people how to follow me" - New International Church Mystic Version

What do we mean when we point to Jesus command to go into all the world and preach the gospel? 

I heard a man say that it isn't practical for us to go into all the world and, at a brush, this seems true. After all, how can we procure the funds (much less the time) to travel that much. So what is our solution? In recent history, the answer has been to donate our money to those who have devoted their lives to doing this - "going" - and it worked (sorta). We felt good about giving our money (I mean, that's kind of like "going") and they had the funds necessary to do what they felt called to do (not going to get into whether all funds are used correctly or not...that's just too big of a topic for one blog post). But is this true? Is this the world we live in?


The reality is that this blog has been read all over the world. So, practically, I have "gone into all the world" more than Joe Shmoe who gave 600% more than me last year to missions work. I don't want to come across as someone who devalues donating to missions work - this is good. I only want to point out that in the twenty-first century, our power of influence is different. We don't necessarily have to be present in a country to have an effect. As a matter of fact, we likely don't need to do much other than continually contribute our voices for the Kingdom of God - however that may be.

The reality of the Great Commission for the post-modern church is that we have new options and, furthermore, we have new issues to connect with. Instead of trying to give you a laundry list of things we should be concerned with, I would rather just say this:

Look again

Jesus' command to go everywhere was much more about growing Christ followers, not adding to the number of people who mark "Christian" on social surveys. The church today needs to shift gears from "spreading the word"  to cultivating mini-Jesus's. Being a Christian is far more about crafting your life to look like Jesus' life than it is to get people to sign up for something. The command to go tell people doesn't have to mean that you need to literally say anything. In fact, it has been my experience in America that most people see Christ in your life before you say you follow him (if you're doing it right). It is those that seem to need to tell you that they are Christian that I hold suspect. But this is true for many areas of our lives. It isn't the athlete who boasts about his skills that is most revered but the athlete who performs incredibly well. So too should we strive to be the best Christian we can and let our lives speak for us. Should we talk about Jesus? Yes. Every chance you get. But over-stepping your bounds to create "chances" is antithetical to the natural way that Christ ministered to the hurting of this world. 
There are many many ways that this blog post could go, but instead of chasing them all out, I'd rather say this to you: 

Are you 'telling' people about Christ with your life? Are you teaching them what it means to be a Christian? or are you resting on your laurels and hoping that your obedience to worship attendance will suffice when all is said and done. Can we go into all the world? Yes, now we can. But let's do it with the premise that our purpose is to grow the Kingdom of Christ, not simply add to our numbers.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Where are You Going?

In life, there are many times when we hit stages that simply need defined. Without such definition, we tend to just sort of float along and react to things. I can reflect on my life and vividly remember times that I was simply reacting to the circumstances at hand.

I didn't like it.

When I started doing life on purpose - or rather, with purpose - I started to notice that I generally felt more fulfilled as a human. What I'm about to write here has little to do with becoming a better Christian (though this is ultimately where this blog leads to) and has more to do with directing one's life in a way that ultimately leads to some sort of stability and fulfillment. Mystic and Christian, Paul writes:

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Phil. 4:12, NIV)

As our forerunner in the Christian tradition, we learn from Paul that contentment or a fulfilled life does not hang on whether we are fed or hungry (to use the analogy), but upon something else. Contentment in our lives has much more to do with being able to function with a sound mind about what we're doing. This being said, one of the things that I have found is a good question to ask myself on a regular basis is the title of this post: "Where are you going?"

I know that my reader may not be going anywhere physically but most people are "going" somewhere figuratively or in their spiritual or mental lives. For example, students are "going" somewhere psychologically and catechumen are "going" somewhere spiritually. These are two obvious examples. It is important, however, that we as Christians continue to "move" or grow in our knowledge and spirituality all to the end of growing the Kingdom of God.

So how do we go about answering the posed question? What has helped me in my journey is crafting a prayer. Yes, I said a prayer; not a mantra, nor a motto or a theme but a prayer. For me, I found that by praying, I acknowledge my great need for a savior and that my sustenance ultimately comes from God. Also unique to myself is that I have learned mine in Latin. I recite it this way for two reasons: 1. I took Latin in my undergrad and there fell in love with the language and 2. I feel a sense of connection to the historical church when I say it this way. So, I'm not saying you need to come up with a Latin prayer, but I am saying that you need to have a guide in your actions, decisions and ultimately your life in order to begin to answer the question of this post.

Crafting my Prayer
One of the first things that I asked myself when coming up with my prayer was to try and think of things that were most important to me. For me and after much reflection, these were truth, wisdom and love. These things, to me, are what makes up the foundations of how we encounter the world and, thus, how we act, make decisions and spend our energies. 


The first thing in my prayer is truth. This is the search and attainment of reality. Author Donald Miller once said that "reality is like a fine wine; it simply won't appeal to the immature". Admittedly, this is a paraphrase, but the idea stands: in order to be mature, we must embrace reality in all its starkness. This has led me to not turn away from hard news articles that report tragedy (though I think there is an over-saturation of these kinds of articles) and not mentally shrug off global issues.


I have found in my life that wisdom is usually the positive reciprocal of humility. That is, when I am more wise, I am also more humble and vice versa. Wisdom is essentially how we interpret the world that we encounter. If I am encountering this world with humility, I am more likely to see the world through a more realistic lens. It is those who are concerned with protecting their ego that usually view the world in a distorted way. My goal in including this wisdom piece is to avoid misinterpreting the world for the sake of my ego.


Ultimately, love runs all. God is love and thus is, and should be, above all. Keeping in mind that the love I pray for is an acknowledgment of God's intrinsic character, it only makes sense in the context of truth and wisdom. As Christians, our love is an extension of God's and, through his empowerment, we are able to effectively spread this concern for all creatures of our world.

Concluding Thoughts

I will include my prayer at the bottom for the reader (both in Latin and English) but I want to say here that this prayer will likely not be the perfect prayer for you. Mine is from my subjective perspective and, for you, there may be more important things. Also, it should be said that we should be careful to let our prayers evolve. Clearly the Christian tradition affirms personal and novel prayer but the tradition of pre-written, pre-meditated prayer is deep and for good reason: they help to focus our lives.

I hope this has inspired some thought and meditation and I hope that from self-reflection you are able to come up with something to help guide your 2015 and life, ultimately answering the question "where are you going?"

Orationes Alexander Munionis

Pater Noster,
da nobis veritatem super consolatione
status sapientiae
et diligere super omnia.
in nomine Patris, et Fili, et Spiritus Sancti

The Prayer of Alexander Munoz

Our Father,
Give us truth over comfort,
wisdom over status
and love over everything.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit

Again, I iterate that this may not be your prayer. This is simply how I have tried to guide myself through life's ups and downs. Feel free to share your own in the comments!