Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Am I a thief or a good shepherd?

When we were living in Siberia, a friend pointed out that it is important when preaching the gospel to an indigenous people to go through the "door" instead of a window. This basically means that it is essential to learn the culture and the language of the people and to find the cultural keys.

Then today I came across these words from Jesus, "I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber." It occurred to me that many people who do not respect the culture of the people they are trying to reach actually are thieves in the eyes of the receiving culture. It is often the complaint of Siberian people that they are not interested in Jesus because he is the "Russian god." Anyone who comes preaching Jesus to them without respecting their culture and taking the time to understand them is most definitely seen as a thief. I certainly don't want to be a thief.

Jesus goes on to say, "they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice". It's pretty plain to see that time is needed for people to learn the voice of the messenger. When the voice is heard, understood and trusted then this is a like the shepherd entering in through the gate.

I hope you will take the time to be a friendly shepherd rather than a thief when sharing the gospel with people.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Shaking the world view

Over the last couple years I have been learning in practice, what I knew in theory. That is that for people to receive the gospel their word view needs to be shaken. I particularly enjoyed the argument of people from One Story, that it is within the imagination of a story that people's world views are challenged. In fact the very same thing happened for C.S Lewis. In his biography he retells how it was in the realm of imagination and stories that he allowed himself to imagine that God was real.

I have recently been sharing with people an experience from Tuva where people we spent time with there had their world view challenged by our presence and the ensuing battle between angels and demons camped about our tent when we camped together with them. They fully expected to face punishment from the evil spirits after we upset the balance. When they did not face the repercussions of the evil spirits it challenged their world view.

If this is what is necessary to challenge people with the gospel in non western cultures, shouldn't it also be necessary in western cultures? To challenge a western thinker with the gospel of Jesus, the dominant paradigm must first be tackled. What is the dominant paradigm of the western person? I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. There are a few dominant paradigms. One of them is most definitely that of consumerism. It seems that our whole lives in the west revolve around what we consume, than what we produce. And it is not uncommon that people will go on shopping sprees for the sake of entertainment. This paradigm is centred in "what can I take?" instead of "what can I give?"

Churches have become consumeristic too. People spend time in church wanting to be entertained, to make friends, to feel good, i.e to receive. Where as the foremost reason we should go to church is to worship God.

So my task over the next 18 months, while I live in a western country will be to undermine the western world view of consumerism and perhaps other paradigms as well.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The spirituality of music

My writing of late has been a little scarce, I will try to get back into it again.

I have some seed thoughts about music. Simply put, the voice is the most basic and primitive form of music. It is when the voice is stretched and abnormal frequencies are made that the building blocks of music are created. I have no doubt that the most ancient and primitive forms of music were voice only. Rhythm would have followed next, followed by impromptu percussion. But already in the primitive growth of music, percussion and rhythm were accompaniment for singing.

Later on, many discoveries would have been made that created various frequencies, not unlike singing. I wonder then if early instrumentation was not then a mimicry of singing. The development of instrumentation is a means of embellishing the environment for the voice.

True, much music is now completely absent of voice altogether. But in many ways this music is searching for deep gutteral ways to articulate what words fall short of doing. Words can be mistakingly seen as synonymous with voice, but they merely overlap.

Instrumentation is a wonderful thing and I enjoy it. It enables a musician to express themself, in the security of the "other" without necessarily shining a spotlight on the soul. But I find the voice the most naked and vulnerable of musical expressions, one that can never be truly matched by a musical instrument.

The voice expresses the deepest yearnings of the soul. We all have a voice, and whether we admit it or not, we can all sing (even if we do not want others to hear us!). When we sing out loud we open our soul up to breathe and we can call out to the deep. When we direct our singing towards the Creator God, it can become the purest of prayers, especially if we don't know the words, but simply sing.

Give it a try, open your mouth and sing out loud to your Creator. He just might answer you.