My old maths teacher used to repeat the mantra to us in our A-level (Leaving Cert.) classes
“what does assuming do, boy? It makes an ASS of yoU and ME.”
And so we were taught to never assume something and always to prove it from first principles. But years go on, and in Christian circles, people often wonder why we preach the same message (with variations) to each other so often. But when one of my good friends in Cork, who has recently found faith, is getting highly disillusioned with the church and indeed with the human species at large, I’m reminded that we need to remind each other that humans are fallen creatures. No-one, even your greatest hero of faith, is worth ultimate trust.
And then another of my friends in Cork said this to me the other month:
“Sure, Peter, I read somewhere recently that there aren’t really any unreached peoples anymore, because of the internet and all that.”
I was shocked.
Here was a mission-minded young person who’d been on mission trips abroad lots, saying that there weren’t “unreached” peoples.
And then two lasses who’d done our graduate intern and discipleship program in the UK, were sitting next to me over dinner last week as we met up again, and they said:
“It was only recently that we heard of unreached peoples and their need. It’s very fresh to us and what you’re saying is very different to the way most people talk.”
Clearly in writing a blog about a theology of travel, I’d assumed something fairly major. That people would come here with a great knowledge of missional needs, and a passion to act. But it appears I’m back assuming things, and that even my heart must be reminded of this great world need:
to participate in God’s great mission in this world, through the means He chooses, in the way He wants, is one of the greatest joys known to mankind (and to Him!). As we share in his out-ward-looking heart for all nations or more specifically peoples (“ethne”), we’ll be enthralled by glimpsing a small part of His hand at work in this world, largely through His children (the bride, the Church) sharing of their groom (His Son).
But first let me ask some of you to part company with me on this road I’m about to travel on, to unreached shores, if you think Christianity is not good news worth sharing. For example:
- if you assume that getting people to think for themselves about what they believe is not worth it (“Come let us reason together, says the Lord”)
- if you assume truth can’t be known exhaustively before it is shared (can I ask you how you came to this conclusion about even this statement you shared with me?!)
- if you assume that giving society a framework for pluralism is not helpful (the Triune God: completely united, yet utterly different within His being – find me a worldview that has that at it’s heartbeat and you should find a very real tolerance)
- if you assume that the Christian core teachings are something not to be emulated (yes, plenty of worldviews teach the golden rule to love each other as we love ourself, but few ground it in the central reality of a God who lays down His life for His people, and a people who morally ought to do the same)
- If you assume that the way the Bible gives all humans equal status in this world is not a worthy bedrock to teach people
- if you assume and feel that the Christian sexual ethic isn’t a life-enhancing one for everyone, and so you daren’t explore with those who’ve found the opposite
- if you assume that the repulsive way some professing Christians (including some major churches) have lived out what a faith should look like, is what faith is like (because don’t worry, a forgery banknote means there are no real banknotes out there)
- if you assume that we’ll all, despite His warning otherwise, be able to impress God on the day of judgement by our amazingness, and so we’ll all be alright in the end
- if you assume that thankfulness is not a good motivator in life, and you don’t want a forgiven people, overflowing with thankfulness and gratitude, trying to live that our in life.
- and if you assume that there’s no conclusive evidence for Jesus, and conclude that despite the evidence for His existence, His resurrection and the changed lives He gave, is all nonsense and this type of god doesn’t exist anyway
Given we’ll probably have a very few readers left reading, perhaps we may proceed tomorrow. Don’t worry, you’ll find our numbers will drop sharply again. Enjoy a night sleeping with a fairly large group in the world’s population called the evangelical Church. Hundreds of million of us. Together. Nice and snug and growing in number.
Comforting, eh? Sleep tight! See you in the morning!