Wednesday, December 5, 2012

David Brainerd—A man who lived on mission (as ALL Christians should be)

David Brainerd was special. Not because he was a missionary (every Christian is a missionary), but because of how he lived as a missionary. His words below reveal his heart: 
"All my desire was the conversion of the heathen... I declare, now I am dying, I would not have spent my life otherwise for the whole world."
I want to live like David Brainerd. I want to love others like David Brainerd. I want to have the heart of God for the lost. Do I need a specific people group to do this, to "live on mission"? Nope. Just obey and follow Christ. He was very clear before He left to tell His followers what we should be doing until He returns. 
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
Recently, I wrote the post below for a friend's blog. In it, I dealt with a few practical ways to engage our culture. Sometimes we need just a gentle reminder....getting back to the basics, the fundamentals, if you will. 

An Idiot’s guide to successful (and biblical) "cultural engagement”:

To anyone who is already offended by the title of this blog post, please read the disclaimer below:

Disclaimer: The use of the word "idiot" is not meant to be an intellectual assessment of the readership of this blog. Rather, I use this word as a "cultural point of reference" or an example of contextualization (since the first Idiot’s Guide was published in the late 1990’s).

I often describe myself as a “detoxing fundamentalist”. To be clear, I still embrace and appreciate the historical definition of “fundamentalism”, but reject the fundamentalism of last 60 years which often implanted Christian orthopraxy into the fight for Christian orthodoxy.

I say all this because 10 years ago I would have rejected the term “cultural engagement” and 5 years ago I would have looked it with suspicion. For me, the term was just another way to dilute the message of the gospel and/or justify unholy affections.

Today, I embrace the term mainly because I understand more clearly the realities of my mission. 

So in a way, this Idiot’s Guide is meant to guide the young pups, remind the adult dogs and teach the old dogs (detoxing fundamentalists) new tricks.

Here are four practical ways to “engage the culture”:

Be observant.

Acts 17:16 “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.”

Paul was living a single-minded, strategic, eyes-open” approach to his mission. He was not just looking for people, but looking around in culture to see what people are worshipping. In other words, the zealous apostle was observing with the goal to find common ground (i.e. talking points) with unbelievers.

So, look around. Where to begin? Well, this advice helped me. Pray for a missional mindset in your recreation, occupation and residential location. Catchy and practical.

Be a listener.

I once read that ‘Francis Schaeffer, the great 20th century apologist, was asked what he’d do if he had an hour to share the gospel with someone. He responded by saying he’d listen for 55 minutes and then, in the last 5 minutes, have something meaningful to say’.

In other words, he listened in order to speak the gospel directly to their story.

Chuck Colson spoke of something similar. He wrote,
“We must enter into the stories of the surrounding culture, which takes real listening. We connect with the literature, music, theater, arts, and issues that express the existing culture’s hopes, dreams, and fears. This builds a bridge by which we can show how the Gospel can enter and transform those stories.”
Yet, let us not deceive ourselves, listening is not natural. It is a work of grace because listening requires humility and compassion. I have often meditated on the verse below.

James 1:19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;

Know your bible.

This is not just important because it is vital in the Christian's process of maturity, but it also crucial to our knowledge of ourselves and our fellow man.

John Calvin, the Genevan reformer, states,
"No man can survey himself without immediately turning his thoughts towards the God in whom he lives and moves; because it is perfectly obvious, that the endowments which we possess cannot possibly be from ourselves; nay, that our very being is nothing else than subsistence in God alone."

Calvin understood that since humanity is made in the image of God then seeing God means seeing ourselves. Studying the bible, then, widens our view of God, renews our sin-cursed mind and reveals to us what true humanity is and more importantly, in WHOM true humanity is seen.   

Finally, it is important to remember that a scripture-informed mind makes you a skillful surgeon, one who is able to pinpoint not just the symptom but the cause of the individual’s unbelief. Knowledge of specific cultures and societal idiosyncrasies is helpful, but knowing the Creator of humanity and His gospel provides the confidence to disseminate the universal antidote to every tongue, tribe and nation.  

Pray for revival.

Let us never forget that methodology is always the subservient to Pneumatology (i.e. the doctrine of the Holy Spirit). Scripture is clear that the Holy Spirit blows where it wishes (John 3:8). Therefore, God is the ONLY ONE who can open up the eyes of blind humanity. We must pray for it. Plead for it. It is amazing to me that all God desires are willing servants who are faithful to communicate His message to a dying world. Have you prayed for a revival in your context today? Are you ready to be a part of the answer to that prayer? 


To sum it up: If we are on my knees, praying for a revival, loving what God loves, we will see the harvest for what it really is: a sea of fruit that is ripe today, but may be withered and dead tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Amen brother. Knowing our God and listening to people is critical to reaching the lost. People don't care to hear what you have to say until they know you care.