Joy in Submission

Painting of Jesus Washing Peter's Feet by Ford Madox Brown

Painting of Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet by Ford Madox Brown

“Some things are so important”, wrote Søren Kierkegaard,  “that they cannot be communicated directly.” Joy in submission is one of those things. How would Kierkegaard attempt to indirectly explain this issue? I do not know. But I am willing to attempt an impossible task of thinking in Kierkegaardian manner as I address how serving is reigning in God’s kingdom. The concept I named, ‘Joy in Submission’.

We were made to reign. We were made to reign through serving. We were made to serve. The objects to which we serve define who we are. Some objects bring intrinsic joy and life when served. Others bring despair and death. Those that bring despair and death often promise intrinsic joy and life but deliver despair and death. Fame, sex, and money are objects that often promise intrinsic joy and life. When they serve us, they do deliver what they promised. But when we serve them, they bring despair and death.

Submission, in God’s kingdom, brings intrinsic joy and life. Submission is serving. Serving is reigning. Thus reigning is submission. Submission is a way of life. It is a way of life worth living. A life worth living is a passionate life. A passionate life glorifies God by enjoying Him now and forever. Enjoying God now and forever is a passionate living that rejoices in serving God through serving others. Serving others is submission. Continue reading

Contextualization: Seasoning With Salt

We must,” claimed Lesslie Newbigin, “acknowledge the fact that there is not and cannot be a gospel which is not culturally embodied. This is simply another way of affirming…the historical nature of the gospel”.  In this series of article I attempt to show that Newbigin is correct.

A gospel that is culturally embodied insures that the mystery of the person and work of Christ Jesus is clear to all whom God opens the door for His Word. There is no and cannot be a gospel which is not culturally embodied because we are called to “[w]alk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.  Let[ting our] speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that [we] may know how [we] ought to answer each person.”(Col. 4:5-6 ESV)

“Knowing how to respond to seekers in their own life context,” explained Martin, and “how to contextualize the gospel without compromising the message, how to communicate the good news of Christ clearly, and how to keep methods consistent with the message—these are essential ingredients for faithful witness.”(Martin 1993: 206) Concurs with Martin, Dodson argued:

We need churches more concerned with gospel faithfulness through true contextualization. We need to preach, teach, train, and disciple the church to communicate the historic gospel of grace in creative cultural forms that awaken people to Jesus, not just lure them into bland services. May we retrieve the true gospel, expressing it in wonderfully creative ways, in order to awaken people to the grace and truth found only in Jesus. (Dodson 2012: n.p)

A gracious and seasoned with salt presentation and sharing of the good news in Christ Jesus enable a Christian to faithfully maintain both a Christian love and a Christian convictions as she share the Gospel of Christ in the cultural context she finds herself in.

This marks the end of my series on Newbigin and Contextualization. If you missed Newbigin And Cultural Embodied GospelPaul: The Missionary And Contextualizer, and Contextualization: Becoming All Things To All, I welcome you to read them and share your view on contextualization.

Bibliography:

Martin, E. D. (1993). Colossians, Philemon. Believers church Bible commentary (206). Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press.

Dodson, Jonathan K. (2012) Internet Source,Last Accessed: 5/4/2012

Contextualization: Becoming All Things To All

Following Newbigin And Cultural Embodied Gospel and Paul: The Missionary And Contextualizer, Becoming All Thing To All is a third article in this series that explores the question of Contextualization viz., “the attempt to communicate the message of the person, works, Word, and will of God in a way that is faithful to God’s revelation, especially as put forth in the teaching of Holy Scripture, and that is meaningful to respondents in their respective cultural and existential contexts.”(Hesselgrave & Rommen 2003: 200).

In 1 Corinthians 8-10 we can see Paul’s description of a cross-cultural mission that could be summarized by 9:22-23[1] viz., all for the sake of the gospel, Paul became all things to all people, that by all means he might save some.

In the cultural context of those outside the law, Gentiles, Paul became as one of them as he became a Gentile, outside the law. Whereas in the cultural context of those who are under the law[2], Jews, Paul became under the law, a Jew. Streett explained that “being a Jew to the Jews (1 Co 9:20), Paul had Timothy (who was half-Jewish) circumcised for the sake of contextualized witness to Jews.” (Streett 2007: 1650).

Pratt correctly captured Paul’s cross-culture missionary attitude when he explained that “[t]his diversity required great flexibility from Paul because he wanted to win those under the law and to win those not having the law.(Pratt 2000: 150)

From Paul, we observe culturally embodied Gospel that’s stumbling block is on the Gospel message of the crucified God and not in his manner or method to which he communicated it in a cultural context he found himself in.

We can thus deduce from 1 Corinthians 8-10 that contextualization aims at removing the stumbling block on the manner or method(2 Cor. 6:3) to which redemptive drama, God sending His Son to live and die in our place, too which is communicated yet retains its offends  to the Jewish(1 Cor. 1:23) and its foolishness of a crucified Christ “to those who are perishing”(1 Cor. 1:18)

Next: Contextualization: Seasoning With Salt

Question: What are the limits,if any, of becoming all things to all people?


[1]  The passage’s context is the discussion whether or not Christians should eat meat sacrificed to idols.

[2] Torah: Laws of Moses

Bibliography:

David J. Hesselgrave and Edward Rommen, (2003) Contextualization: Meanings, Methods, and Models. Pasadena: William Carey Library

Streett, R. Alan, “What is the Christian Identity Movement?”  Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith . Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

Pratt, R. L., Jr. (2000). Vol. 7: I & II Corinthians. Holman New Testament Commentary; Holman Reference (150). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.