Another year, another ONE. weekend away, with the ones who have, for the past two and a half years, taught me to embody and extend grace, to love deep in spirit and dig deep in truth.
I wish I could keep these moments in a time capsule. Perhaps for now the best I can do is to write about it (another experience still so dear to me was “A Week at the Hookses” that took place eight months ago.) We had four talks and discussions this year (featuring Chris Wright, Jenny Gallagher, John Wyatt, and Hannah); an evening of psalms and praises (singing songs corporately, reading psalms to one another, and open prayers); and a communion in the end (to remind us again the significance of sharing in His life as one global body of saints).
Here are some highlights from the talks:
Chris Wright, The Shape of Mission
– The Bible is the story of the whole mission of God for all creation.
– The Bible is not (just) a book of doctrines or rules or promises.
– The Bible is a grand narrative of six acts: creation, rebellion, O.T. promises, Christ and the Gospel (not just His crucifixion but also resurrection and others), N.T. mission (Pentecost and onwards), New Creation (His coming down to earth, not us going up into the air)
– We don’t (just) “apply bible verses to our lives”, but live as participants of His story.
– It is His mission; not ours. Modern-day mission often comes in a form of “our mission” that is human-centric causing many conflicts
– Modern day mission focuses heavily on evangelism and teaching but less on compassion, justice, and care of creation
– Evangelism and gospel comes from the same word; the gospel is not a formula or a prayer you pray to get saved (~ Scot McKnight’s King Jesus Gospel?)
– King Jesus turns all the expectations upside down
– God’s will is not His will for me but to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
– The “Great Commission” is not just to preach and baptise people, but to manifest His lordship over all creation.
– Everything we do flows from the lordship of Christ
– The goal of creation is cosmic.
– Galatians 2:10, “remember the poor”
Jenny Gallagher, The Secular/Sacred Divide
– Every moment is spiritual; there is no divide over sacred and secular.
– Spurgeon: “To a man who lives unto God nothing is secular, everything is sacred. He sleeps on the bosom of God, and lives and moves in the divine presence.”
– There is no spiritual elitism.
– There is no word “spiritual” in Hebrew O.T. as all things were considered as spiritual
– Luther: we are called into, not out of the world.
– Warren: work becomes worship when you perform it in the awareness of His presence
– Work is a good gift to us as part of the cultural mandate in Genesis
– We work to give and share
– Invest your relationship with others in work
– The early church draws people in by the way they love one another.
– They shared everything in common, cared for the needy, and respected women.
– We seek common good for human flourishing by honouring others’ human dignity rather than through forceful legislation
– As the royal priesthood, the temple of the Holy Spirit, and a living sacrifices, we do all things in His name for His glory
– Sermons on the Mount depicts Kingdom values : the last shall be the first and the first shall be the last
– Jesus was born poor and a refugee
– The love of Christ should control us in everything we do
– Seek and see God in everything you do
– Discovery joy, share grace, and hope in the Lord in everything you do
Recommended Reading by Gallagher
– Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
– Wright, Surprised by Hope
– Cosden, The Heavenly Cost of Earthly Work
– Pearcy, Total Truth
– Warren, The Purpose Driven Life
– Yancey, Vanishing Grace
– Yancey, Christian and Politics: Uneasy Partners
John Wyatt, Double Listening
– “We cannot rank our calling and gifting”
– “God gives us deep, profound longings and desire that are rooted in Him”
– “The heart’s deepest longing and the world’s deepest need intersect”
– In the secular world, justice is seen as “fairness”; in the Bible, justice and righteousness are the same word in both Greek and Hebrew
– Make this your prayer: “Lord, make me usable in your kingdom; it doesn’t matter how small the use is. Just use me as an instrument”
– Stott didn’t just preach or teach but lived Christ
– Our generation has an intellectual laziness, but we are told to love with all our mind!
– Double listening: we need to learn to understand others genuinely. Be prepared to dig deep and avoid simplistic answers
– God speaks through non-believers (common grace)
– Read secular books and engage with the authors
– We need humility to learn from believers who have gone before us
– We have a responsibility to use our education well
– The Spirit never cease to lead the Church into new and deeper insights in the midst of challenges
Hannah Hawksbee, Living Simply
– Do we really practice “riches I need not nor men’s empty praise”
– “Christ be in my spending and my saving”
– We are His stewards over creation and resources
– It is by His grace the world is sustained
– When we are not generous, it shows our doubt of God’s generosity
– We are generous because of His generosity
– He is the source of all wealth (even if we “work hard”)
– We always want the one thing that God didn’t or has not given us
– The top 42 richest people own more than what the 3.7 billions poorest people on earth have altogether
– We throw away 1/3 of the food produced
– Learn the tension between fasting and feasting; occasional celebration and normal routine
– Have companions that hold you accountable on how you spend
– Get to know those who are needy and share with them; help the poor brothers and sisters as well as neighbour
– Set some margins in places of spending
– Learn to be content in Christ
– Learn to spend according to God’s economics
– Learn to distinguish “I want this” and “I need this”
– Learn to set your heart on the right place: Christ and His kingdom
Even the final brief messages during the communion shared by Wyatt and Rhys are so encouraging,
– If the spirit nudges us through any of the messages, we just simply need to open our hands and receive
– Always remember the centrality of Jesus Christ
– God always creates something out of nothing. God uses things that are not to put the things that are to nothing. This is often the pattern (nothing to something)
– When you partake of the bread and wine, look around consciously: this is the Lord’s family. You are joined to not just the local but the worldwide, not just the present but the past body of Christ
– And of course the lines from the songs we always sing during communion…”We share in the Bread of Life”; “We will feast in the House of Zion. We will feast and weep no more!”