The Biblical Context for Missions – Part 2

The following text was originally intended as a short booklet with which we could communicate to our friends and partnering churches the basic Biblical context for missions that has helped to motivate us to take part in cross-cultural ministry. This is the second of a four part series.

In Part 1 I made the claim that the root of missions is not derived from a few New Testament verses, but is effectively revealed throughout the whole of Scripture, especially in the themes of God’s glory as His motivation and humanity’s combination blessing and purpose. This post picks up with the second theme: God’s combined blessing and purpose for humanity.

God’s Blessing and Purpose

We have seen how God chose at times to interact with the nation of Israel and the world at large in ways that displayed His power and spread His fame among the nations.  This was the theme of God’s glory.  Now we will look at a parallel theme seen in God’s declared blessing and purpose for His people.  I have chosen to treat these as a single theme because the blessing and the purpose are so closely intertwined in the pages of scripture that to consider one apart from the other would be inadequate.  Our egocentric cultural tendency is to focus on the blessing without ever seeing the purpose; the goal of this section is to reconnect the purpose with the blessing, and to show how foundational this intertwined concept is to understanding the Bible.

We can start right at the beginning, on day 6 of creation.  God made Adam and Eve in His image, then,

“God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it!  Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that moves on the ground’” (Genesis 1:28, NET).

Notice that God’s pronounced blessing over his newly created couple also revealed the end result of their existence – not only would God presently have perfect fellowship with Adam and Eve in the garden, through their fruitfulness and propensity to multiply He would eventually have an entire globe full of men and women living with and relating to Him in perfect fellowship.  The blessing was not so much a gift or promise of prosperity as Western cultures typically think of blessing, this was something more like the Hebrew usage: a familial blessing linked to the conferral of a name and a responsibility to the family as well as the provision of benefits passed from father to son.  Adam and Eve were blessed because God was going to complete his purpose in creating the world through them; they would be fruitful and multiply because His blessing was to that end.  Their purpose was revealed in the blessing. Our purpose, as descendants of Adam and Eve, is the same.

But then the fall happened. Adam and Eve sinned and death entered the world. Incredibly, the combination of blessing and purpose for humanity was not affected by the fall.  So much changed when our ancestors ate that fruit, even the very relationship between man and God – curses were pronounced and life became exponentially more difficult. Mankind embarked down a path of corruption so completely that God eventually judged the world with a flood. But God’s first words to Noah fresh off the ark reiterated the very same blessing and purpose:

“God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1, NET).

The purpose and blessing never changed.  The culmination of time will see this globe full of men and women worshiping God and enjoying Him fully.  His glory will be known worldwide, even if the path to this conclusion has become a little less straight.

The flood in Noah’s day was a judgment of world-wide sin (Genesis 6-9).  Years later, after a quick run through the families descended from Noah (Genesis 10), more sin lead to God’s judgment against those descendants at Babel and the effectual spread of mankind throughout the earth (Genesis 11).  But in Genesis 12:1-3 God initiated something new; He called out Abram to be the father of a nation called Israel, a people whose entire existence was rooted in the blessing and purpose of old:

“Now the LORD said to Abram,
‘Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;

And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;

And so you shall be a blessing;
And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.’” (NASB)

Just like with Adam and Noah before him, Abram’s blessing was directly connected to his purpose.  God would make him into a great nation, he would be blessed, his name would be made great, and even those he interacted with would be blessed or cursed according to how they treated him.  But all of this was so that he would himself be a blessing, that through him and his descendants all the families of the earth would receive God’s blessing.  The mere propagation of humanity was no longer sufficient; the redemption of the lost families was added to the purpose. Israel was to be God’s special people, but the world remained in view.

From Abraham the blessing and purpose was passed to Isaac (Genesis 26:3-4), and from Isaac to Jacob (Genesis 28:14), with God confirming to each that He would fulfill His part just as He had promised their fathers before them.  From Jacob’s twelve sons grew the twelve tribes of Israel, and Israel, having grown into a nation during a 400 year bondage in Egypt, witnessed God’s power as He miraculously extracted them from slavery and lead them into the wilderness toward the land He had promised Abraham.

In the wilderness at Mount Sinai just before God delivered the ten commandments, the Lord said to Moses:

“Thus you will tell the house of Jacob, and declare to the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt and how I lifted you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.  And now, if you will diligently listen to me and keep my covenant, then you will be my special possession out of all the nations, for all the earth is mine, and you will be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’  These are the words that you will speak to the Israelites” (Exodus 19:3-6 NET).

God was promising to Israel a special, privileged place among the nations, but it was at the same time a responsibility to the nations.  Israel was to be a “kingdom of priests.”  The significance of this is clearly seen when viewed in light of the role of the Levitical priesthood of Israel.  At Sinai, God had ordained that the tribe of Levi would not be like the other eleven tribes.  They would be the ones that served the nation as priests by performing the ceremonial sacrifices and working in the tabernacle.  Instead of receiving their own tract of the Promised Land like the other eleven tribes, they would receive their portion of the inheritance through the tithes and offerings made by the rest of Israel.  They would be sanctified, or set apart and consecrated by God, for this role as mediators between the nation and God.  It is important to note that only the priesthood were qualified to make the various sacrifices and offerings on behalf of the people (The book of Leviticus goes into great detail about the specifics of each ordinance).  And all Israel, even the priests, were were only allowed to complete the sacrifices according to God’s design.  Anyone attempting to do it their own way would be rejected, and could even face death.  This was serious; apart from the ministry of the priesthood, no Israelite could make a sacrifice for his sins.  All Israel would remain at enmity with God.  The priests were set apart by God for a specific function – to serve the nation as intermediaries between the Holy God and sinful man.  It is not that they were more holy or more spiritually qualified (they needed the sacrifices for their own sins as well), but they were chosen to serve.

It is in this capacity of service that Israel was called to be a kingdom of priests.  They were set apart from the other nations of the world as God’s special possession, but that was not the end of it.  The nations had rejected God and were at enmity with him.   Israel’s position as the special possession of God designated them as servants to those who did not know Him as God.  Their obligation was to reveal who God was and what he required.  They were to proclaim his glory among the nations.  They were blessed to be a blessing to a world with no access to God.

Even looking past the Pentateuch (the five books written by Moses), the remaining books of the Bible are likewise full of scripture that support our thesis: Israel has been blessed with the ultimate goal of that blessing going through them to all the nations of the world. A sufficient example is Psalm 67 below (though David’s song in 1 Chronicles 16:7-36 and Solomon’s prayer in 1 Kings 8:22-43 are also excellent examples).

1“May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
                            Selah
2that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
3Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
4Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.
                            Selah
5Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
6The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.
7God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!” (ESV)

These seven verses reveal an understanding of both the blessing and the purpose.  The psalm begins and ends with blessing – both a request for it and an expectation of it.  For Israel the blessing was evident – God had personally fought their enemies on more than one occasion, and at one time in their history they had been blessed with so much wealth that silver was almost worthless to them.  Solomon’s kingdom is purported to be the wealthiest the world has ever known.  But there is more: sandwiched between the statements of blessing is a clear statement of purpose.  The psalmist knew that Israel was blessed so that the earth would know God’s ways, all nations would know His power, He would be glorified by all peoples, and the nations would know the joy of worshiping the true God.  They were blessed to be a blessing.

Functionally speaking, the purpose – from Adam to Israel – is the same. The only difference is the implementation.  While God’s glory was revealed through His supernatural interactions among various people at various times, Israel was to engage the world in a parallel vein – as a kingdom of priests, a constant and vocal promoter of the Most High God whom they served.  They were blessed, and that blessing would be extended through them into the whole world.  These are two parts of one redemptive story.

 

Go back to Part 1, or continue on to Part 3.

The Biblical Context for Missions – Part 1

The following text was originally intended as a short booklet with which we could communicate to our friends and partnering churches the basic Biblical context for missions that has helped to motivate us to take part in cross-cultural ministry. Since a document sitting dormant on my hard drive for three years (that will likely never see print) does little to serve it’s intended purpose, I have decided instead to publish it here in a four part series.

Before we start, I would like to acknowledge that there are many authors with far more knowledge and certainly more eloquent writing that have tackled this subject, and my intent is not to present a complete theology of missions so much as to invite you to follow with me along the paths of God’s Word that have cultivated my heart’s longing and propelled me onward toward the goal of missions – God’s glory among the nations. If you will engage God’s word with me through this brief text, I hope you will be likewise encouraged to begin your own pursuit.

Introduction

For many years I thought the Bible’s mandate for missions was based on (or more likely extrapolated from) a few key New Testament passages like Matthew 28:18-20 (called the Great Commission) or Acts 1:8 (“to the ends of the earth”).   It is true that those passages give a clear mandate for the church to be involved in evangelizing the world, but the Bible has much more to say about missions than just a few proof passages.  My goal for this study is to show that missions is a mandate rooted in both the Old and New Testaments, initiated in the first book and culminating in the last; it is a core element of God’s interaction with humanity.1)  I will argue that God’s entire redemptive program is not primarily for our sake (though we definitely receive great benefit), but for the sake of His glory being professed by people of every nation, tribe, and language.

Two Themes

The key to approaching missions with a Biblical perspective, I believe, begins with an examination of two Biblical themes: 1) God’s glory as motivation; and 2) mankind’s blessing and resultant purpose (this will be tackled in part 2). These two themes are key to our understanding of missions because they point us toward the fact that God is the real missionary in our history.  When we grasp God’s zeal for his own glory we understand his underwriting motivation for redeeming humanity, and when we grasp God’s purpose in blessing humanity we are able to more fully comprehend our own past, present, and future role in God’s plan.

The Glory of God

See if you can finish Psalm 46:10 from memory:

“Be still, and…”

How did you do? It is no surprise that most, if not all of us, got as far as “Be still, and know that I am God.”  Those are comforting words, after all; we like the idea that we can rest in God knowing He is in control.  Probably, though, a fair number of us missed the rest of the verse: “…I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” This may seem like a minor detail (dropping the end of a familiar verse), but it begs an important question. As Christians, how aware are we of God’s motivation for acting throughout the Bible? How easy is it for us to be totally ignorant of God’s zeal for His glory, instead operating under a theology that “places man at the center and ignores God’s purpose in the world?”2 This is just one verse, but I will admit that the first time someone walked me through Psalm 46:10 like we just did, I was amazed at having so easily disregarded the context of the passage.  Psalm 46 is about God’s glory and steadfastness in the midst of Israel’s chaos; I had stolen its emphasis by making it about my comfort.  And in my theology, I found that was the norm.  I had read God’s Word extensively without ever taking note of the basic concept that in the Bible, God often declared His glory as His motivation.

Israel’s history provides us with some prime data by which we can evaluate this claim.  What was God’s motivation?  Let’s take a little quiz.

Q – Why did God call Israel out of slavery in Egypt?

A – David’s response to the Lord in 2 Samuel 7:23 (ESV) – “And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods?” (all emphasis mine unless noted)

Q – On their way out of Egypt, why did God save Israel from Pharaoh at the Red Sea?

A – Psalm 106:8 (ESV) – “Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power.”
Isaiah 63:12 – “[He] caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for himself an everlasting name.”

Q – Why did God judge Israel’s sin while they were in the wilderness?

A – Ezekiel 20:9 (ESV) – “But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt.”

Q – Why did God lead and guide David as King of Israel?

A – Psalm 31:3 (ESV) – “For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me.”

Q – Later, when Israel was in full rebellion against God, why did God delay His wrath against Israel instead of wiping them out immediately?

A – Isaiah 48:9-11 – “For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.”

God loved Israel.  He certainly intervened throughout their history in ways that brought great benefit to the nation.  But Israel (or protecting Israel from harm) was not God’s primary motivation; God’s glory was God’s primary motivation.  Steven Hawthorn applies this idea to broader humanity in his article The Story of His Glory.”3  Referring to believers saved by God’s grace, he asserts, “The ultimate value of their salvation is not to be seen in what they are saved from, it is what they are saved for that really matters.  People are saved to serve God in worship.  In this respect, we can say that world evangelization is for God” (author’s emphasis).

That God’s chief motivation is His own fame requires some justification.  Why should God be allowed to exalt himself?  Is it not the height of arrogance for God to demand worship?  To put Himself, His reputation, before even the survival of a nation?  If you or I were to go around with that sort of pride in our own worth we would be labeled a narcissist and laughed out of every room we entered (or more likely scorned out).  Why is it different for God?  I believe the following two reasons are sufficient.  First, God is the supreme thing in all the universe.  If we, as humans, are to praise something, it should be that which is most worthy of praise.  Would you not find it strange if the post-game show following the Superbowl focused primarily on the losing team – or worse, a team that didn’t even make the playoffs?  Those teams may have some merit as professional football teams – even Superbowl contenders, but everyone recognizes that the winning team should have the spotlight.   How much more would God, as the thing most worthy, be wrong to encourage the praise of anything except himself?  There is no offense in His pursuit of His glory because we should not be content to worship a lesser thing.  He is supremely worthy of praise because He is supreme.  Second, as C.S. Lewis observed, “In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”4  I love how Michael Lawrence said it:

“But when we realize that God freely created us for his glory, we finally realize that the story of creation is fundamentally a love story.  God didn’t have to create us, but he did.  He didn’t have to create us as bearers of his image, but he did.  And in doing so, he gave us a unique ability – the ability to take joy in the highest, most beautiful, most desirable thing imaginable, the glory of God.  God himself loves nothing more than his own glory.  There is nothing better or higher to love.  There is nothing more beautiful to fall in love with.”5

God’s motivation for His glory is also His motivation for missions.  John Piper unpacked this idea in the first chapter of his book Let the Nations be Glad.  He concluded, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” ((John Piper, Let the Nations be Glad (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 17.)) Think about what that means. We were created to glorify God, but since Adam and Eve sinned in the garden mankind has walked through history in rebellion against Him. As a race we have exalted ourselves and laid our worship at the feet of earthy things.6 “We are half-hearted creatures,” says C.S. Lewis, “fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”7  We have lowered our standards, content to give our worship to things inherently less worthy of it.  But God is on a mission to restore our worship to its proper place (Himself), and He will see it through.  Missions exists because there are people groups8 in the world that do not worship God.  Missions will cease once all people groups are represented before God’s throne – a future event shown to the Apostle John and recorded in Revelation 7:9-10 (ESV):

“After these things I looked, and here was an enormous crowd that no one could count, made up of persons from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb dressed in long white robes, and with palm branches in their hands. They were shouting out in a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God, to the one seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

Our history is moving steadily toward that day when God’s throne will be surrounded by men and women representing every “nation, tribe, people, and language.”  We will all praise Him, and in our praising Him, enjoy Him fully.  Our mission is for God’s glory.  Yes, a complete Biblical theology is much more complex than this single concept, but it cannot stand without it.  We must acknowledge God’s motivation if we are to understand our purpose.

Continue on with Part 2.


  1. My basic outline has been heavily influenced by Jeff Lewis’ Bible study booklet, God’s Heart for the Nations (Littleton, CO: Caleb Project, 2002 

  2. Ibid, 3. 

  3. Steven C. Hawthorne, “The Story of His Glory,” in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader, 3rd ed. ed. Winter, Ralph D (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1999), 36. 

  4. Reflections on the Psalms (London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1958), 97. 

  5. Michael Lawrence, Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2010), 125. 

  6. See Romans 1:18-23 

  7. C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory. 

  8. The Lausanne Movement defines a people group as “the largest group through which the gospel can flow without encountering significant barriers of understanding and acceptance.” These barriers are typically differences in language, culture, geography, etc. 

A Meaningful Week

The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are worth considering daily.  This week preceding Easter, the week of Passover, when these events are often given more focus, I have spent some time reflecting on the crucifixion and resurrection of our incredible Savior.  I want to share with you what I hope will be helpful in your own reflection of the most important story ever told.

First off, I don’t think Good Friday and Easter can be properly understood without understanding some things about Jewish history as they are presented in the Old Testament. God told the Israelites/Jews to observe certain festivals, or “feasts,” every year in order to commemorate things that God had done for them and/or would do for them in the future. One thing that is incredible to me is how Jesus was the exact fulfillment of the festivals that the Jews observed. – So much of the Old Testament points to Jesus Christ; in everything that God had the Jews do, He was pointing ahead to what Jesus would do for them.  (Jesus fulfilled the Spring festivals with his death and resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and the others – the ones held in Autumn – are widely expected to be fulfilled at Jesus’ second coming.)

Now to look at some of these festivals that pointed to Jesus:

From the time of the Israelites’ escape from Egypt, the Israelites killed a lamb each year at the Passover festival. This annual Passover was to remind them of that first Passover in Egypt when the Lord killed all the first-born sons except those in the households that had killed a pure, spotless, innocent lamb and had applied the lamb’s blood to their doorposts (Ex 12).  For every first born son in Egypt that night, there would be a death – either the son himself, or a lamb in his place.  They smeared this blood on their doorposts because they believed (showed faith in) God when He said He would have mercy on those who placed themselves behind the lamb’s blood, and so the annual Passover festival commemorated this event.

Centuries later, Jesus came, and for a few years he proclaimed to the Jews that the Kingdom of God was near. They had been looking forward to their Messiah-King coming and establishing the Kingdom of God that the prophets had talked about. And so, the time had come that many Jews (but not the religious leaders) were ready to crown Jesus as the Messiah that they had been looking forward to for generations.

When the time came, Jesus, as he did every year, made His way toward Jerusalem for the Passover festival. The Jewish Law required that the Israelites observe the annual Passover feast in Jerusalem, so it is likely that the majority of the Jews in all of Israel were in Jerusalem at the time that Jesus went to celebrate His final Passover festival. He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, and the crowd worshiped him, proclaiming Him to be the Messiah (Jesus knew, however, that these same Jews would soon turn against Him – see his lamentation over Jerusalem in the midst of the Triumphal entry [Luke 19:41-44]). This happened on the 10th day of the month of Nisan – the very same day that the people of Israel were to select their Passover lamb that would be slain for the Passover festival. Thus, figuratively, Jesus was presenting Himself as Israel’s Passover lamb. Now, the religious leaders despised Jesus (primarily because he constantly showed them their hypocrisy), and the last thing they were going to let happen was that Jesus be crowned the Messiah-King. They had already been plotting to have Jesus killed, but seeing the Triumphal entry was the last straw for them, and they moved all the more quickly to plot his death (They knew that they had to arrest him and try Him when there was not a large crowd around, since He was so popular, so they had to get creative with how they would arrest and try Him without the people knowing about it).

For the rest of the Passion Week, Jesus was in and out of Jerusalem. On Thursday evening, Jesus and his disciples had the Passover meal together, then went to the Garden of Gethsemane, just outside of Jerusalem, to pray. After a few hours of them being in the Garden, Judas led the religious leaders and Roman soldiers to Jesus. It was late at night, and they arrested him and immediately began to try him under the cover of the night. He underwent three religious trials throughout that night, and then early in the morning (about 6am) the religious leaders took Him to Pilate (Under Rome’s authority, the Jews were not allowed to carry out capital punishment, so the Jews took him to Pilate so that Pilate would have him killed). Pilate tried him, Herod tried him, and Pilate tried him again, and they could not find anything worth killing him for. Pilot told the Jews that he would release one prisoner to them, either the murderer Barabbas, or Jesus. The Jewish leaders insisted that Jesus be killed, and they stirred up the Jews who were gathered to insist that Jesus be crucified and Barabbas released. So, fearing a riot, Pilate agreed to have him crucified.  Barabbas, the guilty, was released while Jesus, the innocent, would be crucified.

Jesus, having just gone through an incredibly emotional week, a long night of trials, and brutal beatings, was led away to be crucified on a cross – the most disgraceful, and one of the cruelest instruments of death ever invented. He was nailed on the cross at about 9am that (Friday) morning. He was on the cross for six hours before He gave up his life. If you’ve seen the Star of Bethlehem video, you’ve seen that there was much that occurred in the heavenly bodies (sun, moon, stars) at that very moment that Jesus died. But one of the most significant pieces of symbolism is that Jesus died at the very time of day that the Passover lambs were being killed. Jesus, the pure, spotless Lamb of God, died to take away the sins of the world. His blood was shed so that whoever would, by faith, put himself/herself “behind” the Lamb’s blood, would pass from death to life. We, the guilty, are released, while Jesus, the innocent, was crucified in our place.

But, as you know, it doesn’t end there.

Another of the Jewish festivals is the “Feast of Unleavened Bread.” Jesus was in the grave on the first days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Leavening is used to represent sin in the Bible, and Jesus was the sinless “Bread of Life,” the perfect substitute sacrifice for our sins.

Two days after the Passover in that year came the Feast of Firstfruits. The Feast of Firstfruits was the Jewish celebration of the first-fruits of the barley harvest (the first harvest celebration of the year). During Jesus’ ministry, he had been telling everyone that He was the way to everlasting life, and that if people believed in Him, they would have everlasting life – quite a bold claim! But then these people who believed in Him – the supposed source of life – saw He Himself succumb to death! What must they have been thinking?! They were devastated, to say the least. But then, on the very day of the Feast of Firstfruits, Jesus rose from the dead! “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor 15:20). So, Jesus’ resurrection means we can have confidence that Jesus is indeed the way to everlasting life! He was the “firstfruits of the harvest” of everlasting life – we (those who have (figuratively) placed themselves under the cover of the Lamb of God’s blood) are a part of the rest of the harvest of everlasting life in heaven!

The take-home message is this: Those who believe (put faith in the fact) that Jesus’ death was the substitutional payment for their sins, can have a fulfilled life here on earth, and will be resurrected to have everlasting life in heaven after they die! Praise God! What a wonderful Savior!

The Sum of an Elephant

There is a parable out of India about three blind men who are brought before an elephant and asked to explain what the elephant is like.  One of the men reaches out and touches the leg and concludes that an elephant is thick and round and much like a column or pillar.  Another man puts his hand on the trunk and concludes that an elephant is slender and flexible and must be something like a snake.  The last man pushes on the elephant’s side and determines that it is broad and unmovable like a large wall.  Sometimes the parable includes five or six men, and you can see from the picture above than there is no shortage of perspectives one could take.  The moral of the story is that everything is relative.  Each of the blind men told the truth based on their experience with the elephant, but no one man’s truth could exclude another’s.  No truth took precedence, even in the face of completely opposite claims.

I think this parable is an incredibly beneficial illustration for our world today, but for a different reason.  If our quest is to find out what an elephant really is, then what are we doing asking blind men when there is one who came to give sight to the blind.  Why trust a man’s limited experience with an elephant when there is one who created elephants?  The religious discussion is full of men espousing experiential truth from their own narrow perspective, but God, the creator and sustainer of the universe, has chosen to speak to us through His Word, the Bible.  We should place a higher priority on God’s word because His perspective is infinitely wider than ours.  He knows more about elephants than 6.7 billion blind men ever could.

Perhaps you don’t believe in God, or that He has communicated to man through the Bible.  That is ok.  My point here is not to convince you of His existence, but to simply show that He is necessary if we are ever to know the true purpose for our existence.  Without the broad perspective of the One who set the universe in motion, we have no hope of true understanding.  We are merely blind men groping around in the dark, thinking the sum of an elephant is a snake.

Provision

This has been a big week for us.  We started classes on Wednesday morning (first up: James & Hebrews) and have loved every bit of it so far.  While we are in class, Hudson spends his time flirting with the lady infants in the nursery.  Everyone loves him.  Everyone.  I’m not making that up.  The school has filled up with a lot of new faces mixed in with the familiar ones, and we are excited about getting to know them over the course of the year.  Life in this community has it’s challenges, but there is also much we are grateful for.

We have never doubted God’s faithfulness to provide for us here, and He has continued to show us that He is able to meet our needs.  Last year I had the opportunity to do some odd jobs for the owner of a local used book store, and upon returning to town earlier this month, I reestablished contact with him and was offered more work.  Last week, he offered me a job in his book store with the perfect amount of hours and flexibility.  I’m pretty new to the whole retail/cash register thing, but I’m getting the hang of it pretty quickly.

This Jackson economy may be shaky, but our God is a rock!