EMPOWERED TO BE HIS WITNESSES TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH
Entering into the story…
Not only do we have the help of the Holy Spirit to aid us in discerning and practicing God’s will, but we also have each other. We cannot image God alone, if for no other reason than that the image has a reference to our cultural rule over creation. And, as we have already seen, human culture-forming is a communal task. The biblical motif of the body of Christ also leads us in this direction. As Christians acting in unity, we need to address the issues of our culture. It means starting right where we are with our jobs and in our families. – Brian J. Walsh
Read the passage linked below and imagine the scene as if you were a movie director working with the characters. Often, we do not enter scripture with our humanity intact and we do not dignify the characters we find there by giving them their humanity in return. The goal of Lectio Divina is to meditate on the scene we find there and allow the characters to speak to us by vividly imagining the scene as if we are standing there physically too. Ask Holy Spirit to make the scenario come to life as you read using all of your senses to visualise everything in the scene…
Acts 2 – Good News for every Tribe, Tongue and People Group
The Gospel inclusive of all Nations!
When the book of Acts starts, the early church is made up of mostly Jewish believers or converts to Judaism and as the book progresses we find that it now expands to all nations. If you are a Jew, your story with God continues, if you are not a Jew, like me, this is good news indeed, as we are grafted in. God’s story has always impacted surrounding nations as God has never been working in not only one culture but in all. Now, He is calling His disciples, filling them with Holy Spirit and gifting them with a heavenly language that brings the diversity of the nations back front and centre to His plan. After this, the Great Commission also sends them back out to every corner of the earth. This mandate remains today. We are to go and to make God known!
However, this was a brand new concept to these disciples, Jesus’ ministry had been centered on Galilee, a tiny area and that was all they knew. At Pentecost, we see the Holy Spirit is gathering in all people, all nations, every tribe, tongue and culture into this kingdom come. A radical idea, with a shocking event at Pentecost, the ripples of which are still being felt today. Now, we have Father, Son and Holy Spirit and we can see what each person of the Trinity is working towards in our lives to knit us together into a community of faith, a people chosen, called and unified in His name, His work and His purposes to reconcile all imagebearers to Himself.
What do you see happening in this chapter of Acts? How do the disciples react? How do the nations represented respond to hearing their heart languages on the lips of these disciples? What is it like to hear stories for the first time in your own language versus a foreign one? How does God affirm all cultures by doing this wondrous thing? Why are the languages given by the Holy Spirit at all? We often think it was a heavenly, other-worldly language and for the disciples it might have well been, since they did not learn it and were uttering all the languages. It would be like a Jew suddenly speaking all the languages of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas etc. How incredible.
Where we have seen some of the imagery before in the Old Testament? A wind, fire, God dividing languages and creating diversity in the Tower of Babel? How did Holy Spirit lead in the Old Testament using a pillar of fire, or a cloud in the wilderness? How did Holy Spirit empower creatively, powerfully and personally in the scriptures? Before the person of the Holy Spirit would come upon someone for a while perhaps to complete a task. Now, He has come to indwell the Body of Christ. What does that mean for us? Just as Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit, so we are too. The gospel spreads like wildfire throughout the known world, many of these same disciples would die very far from their homeland as they travelled to the ends of the earth with the gospel.
1) Prepare: Close your eyes, breathe, focus your mind, and ask God to enter into this time of prayer with you. Ask God to speak to you through this image.
2) Lectio (read): Open your eyes and scan the image. Note what draws your interest, but continue to scan the whole image. Close and rest your eyes a minute.
3) Mediatio (meditate): Open your eyes and let your eyes be led. Focus on just the part of the image that caught your eyes and name it. Close your eyes, seeing that piece of the image in your mind.
4) Oratio (pray): Open your eyes and look again at the piece of the image that caught your eye. Allow it to bring forth a word, image, or emotion. Close and rest your eyes.
5) Contemplatio (contemplation): Open your eyes and gaze at the whole image. What is God speaking to you today through this image? How will you respond to Him? Spend time processing that with God. Pray or journal about it.
Pentecost changed everything for the Nations as the gospel continued to spread from Jews to all Gentiles, the book of Acts chronicles this radical change.
The Great Commission
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
– Matthew 28:16-20
It seems clear enough to us. Yet, if we read in Acts 10, we see that Peter is still struggling to come to grips with what God is doing! God shows him a sheet coming down with all kinds of unclean animals and commands him to eat. Peter refuses. God is preparing Him for a visit to Cornelius’ house. Peter will not go into a Gentile’s house or eat with one.
27-29 Talking things over, they went on into the house, where Cornelius introduced Peter to everyone who had come. Peter addressed them, “You know, I’m sure that this is highly irregular. Jews just don’t do this—visit and relax with people of another race. But God has just shown me that no race is better than any other. So the minute I was sent for, I came, no questions asked. But now I’d like to know why you sent for me.”
Of course, this all comes to a head when Paul and Barnabus come along saying that they have a call to go to the gentiles. Even after this, Paul has to confront Peter publicly because he has withdrawn from mixing with the gentile believers when he eats only with the Jewish leaders who came down from Jerusalem (Galatians 2:11-13). This almost caused a church split as they decided if new converts would need to be circumcised or follow Jewish customs to be accepted (Acts 15). We need to be aware of how radical a change this was. Of course all change takes some time to get used to. These are still issues we deal with in modern missions as we may still be tempted to take our denominational traditions and force those of other cultures to adhere to “our way” of doing things. God wants each culture to find a way to bring their faith to be bear on their own cultures. This is worth thinking about.
All Nations, All Tribes and All Tongues included in Trinitarian Fellowship through the Body of Christ, the Church.
In the Old Testament, God made Adam in His image. Out of him, his side, came Eve. From them God created a family, community and imagebearers for His name. He called them His sons and daughters. From this one family, God calls faithful imagebearers, to partner with Him as individuals and flourish in communities. From one promised son, God grows 12 tribes. He takes them from slavery in Egypt and creates a nation out of them. From this nation, a great kingdom arises. God blesses all nations through them, but as they grow, this earthly kingdom turns from God, This results in their kingdom splitting, their temple destroyed, their holy city raised to the ground and their people are left in exile and their land taken and occupied.
In the New Testament, God does a new thing, but there are echoes from before. God comes in the ﬂesh as the second person of the Trinity, the Spirit of Christ is born into a human womb. Instead of 12 tribes, Jesus calls 12 disciples and tells Him that He is the Messiah, from the line of David, a Jew, a perfect Israelite, born in Palestine. He has come to bring the Kingdom of God, but this time it is an eternal kingdom. He is also a High Priest from Mary’s line. God is going to gather together all nations into a new Kingdom in which there is no Jew nor Gentile, no slave nor free, no male nor female, because God is forming a new image of Himself in His church. We become one body drawn together by one spirit, who gives gifts to each according to His good purposes for the building of the church. So anyone can come to be saved in Christ and out of Jesus will come the bride of the Lamb. We enter an exodus, where God will see all peoples gathered into a new Kingdom, which God is bringing to pass on earth as it is in heaven. Where we will rule and reign with Him for eternity as He reunited heaven and earth and calls all imagebearers to co-create with Him.
“We are co-creators when we are artists, writers, and musicians. We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. And it’s not that we necessarily make His world a glorious place as much as we remind the world that it is a glorious place. We enhance the beauty around us by our God-given gifts. We are His artwork, created in Christ Jesus for those good works that God prepared beforehand for us to walk in.”
– N. T. Wright
Remember the video from The Incarnation module where Kanye West interrupts Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech to dispute whether she deserves it? Well, I’d like you to watch this video where Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters invites a ten year old fan on stage to play with the band. Notice how being included in a band you admired from afar changes this boy’s life! Watch the video here
Now, think about how God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit want to include you in Trinitarian Fellowship, so you become a member, sharing in all that they are, and all because Jesus made the way for you as fully human and fully God!
Embodied Spirituality in Practice
A DISCIPLINE OR PRACTICE TO INCORPORATE INTO YOUR LIFE.
INSPIRATION AND PRACTICAL APPLICATION FROM A CREATIVE
DISCOVER HOW TO MAKE SPACE FOR “THE OTHER” TO INCLUDE THEM IN THE BODY OF CHRIST, HIS CHURCH
Assignment: “As you have done unto the least of these, you have done unto me!” – Matthew 25:35-40. How do we actively make space for the other in our lives? Who is the other in your life? Give this some thought and write or create a response… Wherever we encounter an imagebearer, how we treat them, is how we treat God. This is where every law stems from…! How do we dignify every imagebearer with dignity, respect and value as we would do with God Himself? How does this challenge racism, bigotry, hatred, sexism tribalism, and de-humanising of others?, Upload your response here!
This is a chance to express yourself creatively. Perhaps something in this part of the timeline has challenged, excited or inspired you. You may want to think about how you could express that through drawing, writing, painting, filming, designing or photographing something to share with others here at creativeimagebearers.com.
Optional: In addition to the assignment above, please write a haiku, poem, song or create a piece to express yourself and share it with us!
Final Take-Away to give context…
PROVOKE THOUGHTS, QUESTIONS…
e can underestimate what Pentecost did. With a wind, clouds, flames of fire and the joining of all languages into a heavenly one that pulls all earthly languages into a new empowering framework. God is speaking, just as He led the Israelites with a pillar of cloud by day, a pillar of fire by night, as He appeared to Moses in the cloud of the Holy of Holies and in the burning bush to Moses. So, the Holy Spirit will be in us, to guide us into all truth. As the Tower of Babel separated one empire into all the tribes and nations of the world by confusing their language so God is now building His church as He built the temple garden of Eden, the tabernacle in the wilderness, the second and third temple. He will build His church out of believers gathered together the world over in One Spirit as Christ’s body here on earth as it is in heaven.
he Great Commission is our call to go to the ends of the earth. The body of Christ is not complete until every nation, tribe and tongue has heard. First, though God has to deal with the racism and bigotry in our hearts, just as He did in Jonah, in His disciples when Jesus said they were going to Samaria, in Peter as God shows Him a sheet of unlearn animals and tells him to eat. Or when Paul confronts Peter for not eating with the gentile believers. God has to deal with the wickedness in our hearts, by the power of One Holy Spirit who dwells in us. He fills us up so that we can pour out our lives for the last, the least and the lost. Only to refill us and empower us again and again to be the body of Christ to the world. Wounded, suffering death but also animated by resurrection life again and again to do the work of God.
od calls us into a New Story, which is actually the same story. Except now the temple is not built by human hands. The body is not an individual, but now communal. We are part of a church and God is calling a people for His name, a community set apart for Him, filled by Him and in which there is no Jew, or Gentile, no slave or free, no male or female. We are made one in Christ and this supersedes all racism, sexism or ethnic divides in the early church or today. The life of God is now found in a community, where two or three are gathered. We should be finding our home in a body, God’s church. The church became more and more inclusive of every tribe and nation and tongue. If you are a Christian from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas etc. we should be so thankful that the gospel is so inclusive of us.
WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU
www.livegodspeed.org videos and study guide series
The Whole Church to the Whole World – Mission Mobilisation Videos
God has always included Gentiles as part of His plan of salvation:
Jesus and the Gentiles:
Engaging with the Church Calendar:
The Prodigal Son Story:
Luke 15 talks about the loss of all things. A lost coin, a lost sheep and a lost son, actually two lost sons and the Fathers live for all things; creation, creatures and imagebearers. The gospel redemption includes all!