Wednesday, February 25, 2009

40 Days of cHesed—Day 37

Day 37 Sharing Your Life Message

The purpose of God is summed up in two passages in scripture known as The Great Commandment (which we have also come to know as The Jesus Creed) and The Great Commission. Let’s take a closer look as these two passages.

The Great Commandment (See Matthew 22:37-40) tells us that we are to love God totally and to love our neighbor as ourselves. The Great Commission (See Matthew 28:19-20) tells us that we are to share God’s offer of adoption with everyone—helping them become “like Christ”.

The key to these passages is in the word neighbor.

For those who understand Hebrew ideas like target and covenant, the key to knowing whom your neighbor is may be easier. Otherwise, it seems a bit vague. So, before we get to our slice of carrier life, let’s talk about neighbors.

The Hebrew word for neighbor refers to an associate—one who is more or less close. In Greek the meaning is one who is nearby. So our image of neighbor is one who is near, with whom we have some association. Now for the Christian, there are essentially two kinds of near ones:

  1. Those near to us who have already been adopted by God; who are part of the family of God in Christ. (On the carrier, we call them crewmembers.)

  2. Those near to us who are potential family members—to whom we are to extend God’s offer of adoption in Christ. (On the carrier, we call them civilians.)

You will notice that this image is both very inclusive and somewhat exclusive.

  1. For the first kind of near ones above, it is inclusive in that everyone who is “in Christ”—from every spot on the globe—is our brother or sister. What a family! But it is somewhat exclusive in that we have a primary responsibility to love those who are in our local Covenant Community.

  2. For the second kind of near ones above, it is inclusive in that everyone who is not “in Christ”—from every spot on the globe—is our potential brother or sister. We love them by sending missionaries to get near enough to them to extend God’s offer. But it is somewhat exclusive in that we have a primary responsibility to love those who are in our local community—wherever you happen to be.

It is inclusive in that God wants everyone to accept his offer. It is exclusive in the fact that none of us are associated with everyone. And so, we must focus on those who are near to us—those with whom we have some kind of association.

This is the foundation of incarnational/missional evangelism. Your Christianity can’t be contagious unless you get close enough to someone for him or her to catch it from you!

Did you notice that when we carry out The Great Commandment, we are also fulfilling The Great Commission! Wow—you would think that God knows what he’s doing…

Now, let’s board the carrier and take a peek at how Search and Rescue (S&R) is done.

[Remember to stay with the image here ... your faith tradition may look different. This is Abi's view.]

Every day, the carrier deploys its fleet of small boats. Some are rowboats—for short distances. Some are high-speed racers for urgent missions. There are even houseboats for longer tours. The variety is amazing—every possible type of craft is represented. Our crew is very creative!

Part of the S&R crew rotates during each return to the carrier—to prevent fatigue and provide training and mentoring opportunities between more experienced crew and less experienced crew. Each boat’s crew complement varies, depending on the size of the craft. There must always be room, of course, for at least one or two more—those who may be found and rescued!

Today, we’re going to spend the day at the front with one of the S&R boats. So let’s take a look at what the instructional manual says is supposed to happen.

Search and Rescue Procedures

  • Search and Rescue operations (missions/evangelism) basically launch and sweep ahead of the carrier. They look for people in the water—extending the Captain’s invitation to board the carrier and join the crew.

    • Sometimes a larger ship will be deployed on a longer-term operation to a location too far for daily interaction with the carrier. We call them missionary ships and they replicate carrier life on a smaller scale.

  • Those who accept the invitation are hauled out of the water into the boat. That’s when the processing begins:

  1. Get them out of their old, wet clothes.

  2. Dry them off.

  3. Give them a standard issue crew "uniform" in their size (clothed in Christ, remember).

  4. Give them a hot cup of whatever suits them—coffee, tea, cocoa, soup....

  5. Secure them in the center of the craft—well away from the sides—and give them the Captain’s welcome, answering their questions, while they observe the continuing mission—including any rescues.

  6. When it is time to return to the carrier, all of the new recruits are taken on board and given a tour—meeting the crew and observing them in their stations performing their duties, as well as in their leisure time.

    1. The authentic community on the carrier among her crew is the first line of influence for those considering enlisting. (See Code of Conduct in Day 36 and today’s Reflection.)

      1. Evidence of crew morale include actions we do together: marching in formation, drills, songs learned in boot camp to help keep our spirits up and remind us of important principles, reciting memory verses, etc.

    2. The recruits are given instructions concerning the mission and what it means to be part of the crew. Extensive Question & Answer period provided.

    3. They are then asked to make their choice: do they want to join the crew (be born again), or do they want to return to the water. (Sometimes this takes place on the S&R craft before they get to the carrier.)

      1. Those who want to return to the water trade their uniform for civilian clothes and are respectfully allowed to leave the carrier. (It is a sad, quiet time for the crew. They may have a chance to join later—they may not.)

      2. Those who want to join the crew are welcomed with great celebration and prepared for their initiation with further instructions.

        1. Crew initiation process (covenant-making) includes:

          1. The presentation of individual enlistment papers, which are signed by the King—in his own blood.

          2. The public acceptance of the papers through the initiation ritual (confession of faith and baptism).

          3. The receiving of the crew insignia from the Captain: a white dove (the symbol of the Holy Sprit’s presence) attached to the left pocket. Only the Captain can give out this insignia—it is not for sale.

      3. Those who aren’t sure whether or not they want to stay and join yet are allowed to continue to observe and learn.

          • Young or weak/ill civilians (either born on board or rescued) participate according to their strength and ability.

          • Note: Those born on-board the carrier to members of the crew are considered civilians and must go through the same training, service and initiation process as those rescued from the water. There is no other way to become part of the crew and receive their crew insignia.

So, what do the crewmembers say to the civilians in the S&R boats and on the HESED? How do they explain what carrier life is about? They start by thinking on purpose.

The best way to influence your neighbors for Christ is to know your own story—and be able to share it in a natural way. The next post (a few hours after this one) provides an opportunity for you to write out your story. It will be a blessing to you just to go through the process. It will be a blessing to your neighbor when the Holy Spirit prompts you to share it!

Today’s Look at 1 John

Read 1 John 2:12-17. Be encouraged by the power of God in your life—be challenged to keep out of the water and on target with God!

Keep Breathing!

While you’re riding along behind the Holy Spirit today, ask him to show you your neighbors—all of them. What an amazing sight! Get ready to love them as yourself. You can do it—with God’s help!

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