It was a joyful occasion to be back on the Emory Campus today at the Candler School of Theology with a community learning and being transformed into the image of God. I connected with some old friends and made some new friends as I shared a word about the opportunity for ministry in the midst of constant cultural change.
I shared with them that I believed the U.S. mission field could best be described as having migrated into a Corinthian Culture. By that, I mean that there are many similarities between our culture today and that which the Apostle Paul wrote two letters as a means of grace and truth.
Three paradigm shifts lead me to borrow this term to describe our culture in the west as I look through a historical Wesleyan lens: 1) the move from defining orthodoxy with the authority of Scripture to an interesting place where the authority of personal interpretation is a higher authority; 2) the move from using the Primacy of Scripture as the foundation and source of truth and our guide for all manner of practice and living to the elevation of personal experience as the lens to inform Scripture; and 3) the escalation of biblical illiteracy combined with the collapse of a system for catechism in both the family and the church have created a free-range atmosphere where lines are blurred and grace is often confused with codependency and accountability with tolerance. John Wesley said, “What one generation tolerates the next will embrace.”
I commended unto them the same solution that Paul laid out for the Corinthian community in his day. Three spiritual dynamics that accompany answering the call to follow Christ and becoming active in answering the call to the Priesthood of Believers are God’s way forward: 1) Kenosis – the active pursuit of spending ourselves to build God’s Kingdom by denying ourselves and picking up the cross to follow Christ; 2) Kerygma– the apostolic proclamation of the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. This includes a confession of our great need for God and our inability to save ourselves while proclaiming that Christ has come to save us from sin and death if we will confess our faith in Him; and 3) Koinonia – the fellowship and communion of being one in and with Christ and with one another for the single purpose of God’s great will. Training, equipping, and accountability are the components of disciple making and covenant living that God has called us to and that Christ has modeled.
Today we heard and celebrated the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ! There is great opportunity even in the midst of cultural change!