This is part 2 of a 2 part series: Part 1
A mission trip is like life in a rehab center. You take time out from your normal routine, you are more intentional in how you live, and hopefully, you come home changed. At least that is how mission trips have functioned in my own life.
As I wrote last week, I went on a missions trip to Swaziland this summer. Though it’s premature to identify all of the themes that have taken hold in my life during that time, two already stand out. First, I have been reminded that our God is not a tribal or local god. He is, indeed, King of kings and the Creator God, and he has poured out himself by way of the Spirit. The brothers and sisters in Swaziland are, in fact, our brothers and sisters. We share the same cause for joy, hope and love. The evidence was unmistakable: “There is one body and one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph.4:4-6).
The second persisting theme is the aliveness of Scripture. When we recognize that the Spirit uses Scripture to speak to us, no wonder it is powerful. Whenever I spoke to others in Swaziland, it was customary to give a brief testimony of how I came to Christ and make a verbal profession that Jesus is my Lord – not a bad way to begin a conversation. As I reflected on my own spiritual rescue, I realized that it came about through the Spirit convicting me of the truth about myself and about Jesus through Scripture. Yes, Scripture is alive.
These reflections were compounded with my own personal study of the gospel of John this summer. A couple years ago I read about a brilliant theologian who was asked during an interview for a professorship about his thoughts on John. His response went something like this: “The book of John is like my wife, I love her but I don’t understand her.” That reminded me that there are layers of complexity beneath John’s deceivingly simple language, and John, I think, beckons us to consider these depths in such a way that they gradually reveal themselves and further change us. Between recollecting how Scripture was instrumental in my own story and studying the book of John, I have been humbled that the Spirit of the living God would even work his power in my own heart.
Now, back home again, regular non-rehab life is kicking in. I am blessed to have a job in which I actually get paid for thinking about Scripture, but I am a little concerned. If Scripture is noticeably impressing itself on my heart right now – if I can testify with enthusiasm to its power – was I a bit dull to it before the trip? If so, might I get a bit dull again without knowing it? Lord, have mercy. Make your Word alive in my heart so that I love you and others. May I say with Augustine “Thou didst strike my heart with thy word and I loved thee” (From his Confessions).
This is part two of a two part series: Part 1