What Does a Tribal Church Planter Need?  (John 1:1, Pt. 2)


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In Part 1, I think we all agreed on this:

As Mike Reeves says in his most recent work, “Rejoicing in Christ,” “If the Father can be infinitely and eternally satisfied in Him, then He must be overwhelmingly all-sufficient for us in every situation, for eternity.” 

I believe tribal church planters obviously have unique experiences to write about. But more than just, “Hey, killed a spider the size of Tony Robbins today!” No, I mean meaty stuff that can deeply enourage and spur on local churches back in our home countries to a more accurate understanding of Christ’s love and to continue in good works. Jonathan Edwards, John Newton, Eisabeth Elliot, George Mueller, Hudson Taylor, David Livingstone and others have gone before and have written journals for us to enjoy, and we eat them up, why? Because Christ was made known, proclaimed, exhalted, and cherished through the way He constantly met their needs in really bad, drastic circumstances.

Now that I have a day and half or so to write before I jump back into full-time language and culture-learning on Monday, Happy Saturday/Father’s Day for all you cool dads out there, including my own, who, with every single day I’m separated by 2,000 miles and an ocean from him, I become more and more greatful for his ministry towards and love for me; especially as I father my own two firecrackers posing as one and three-year-old human people (Mia turned 1 today, which is an attrocity).

The more we experience in life, the more we are confronted by our depravity and our need for Christ every dag-blasted moment, the more humble we become, the less nit-picky we are, and the more obvious the light of Christ appears in the people who most influenced us in the past. In other words, my dad is a sinner, and now, because I’m a failure in my own eyes, his failures now shine a spot light on Christ’s beauty, and the goodness in my dad, yes you guessed it, paint a picture of Jesus too.

As Christians, we simply can’t afford to forget history, both globally and personally. How did we get here? When I reflect on mine, I’m more embarrassed than proud, more thankful than entitled.

Every great dad sees his need for a great Savior. A loving son has to see that as well, or we’re not being loving – we’re expecting from our father’s what can only be accomplished by faith in the Savior. That’s delusional, or if you’d prefer Captain Hook, “Bad form.”

Anyways, back to threading the needle, writing to expound the grace and kindness of Jesus as well as keep you informed regarding God’s work in unreached tribes, specifically the one we’re serving in, Kuman, Papua New Guinea. Church planters in UPG’s: if you’re going to write, which I’ve argued you’re obligated to, this has to be done. The failures, struggles, victories – they point to a sufficient, more adequate Jesus.

John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word…”

F. Torrance wrote,

There is in fact no God behind the back of Jesus, no act of God other than the act of Jesus, no God but the God we meet in him. Jesus Christ is the open heart of God, the very love and life of God poured out to redeem humankind, the mighty hand and power of God stretched out to heal and save sinners. All things are in God’s hands, but the hands of God and the hands of Jesus, in life and in death, are the same.

The Word is how God expresses himself, and since he eternally remains with His Word, Jesus, He can’t possibly, and won’t ever be, anti-social. He has always had fellowship with someone while existing in eternity past with the other two members of the Trinity, and as God, Christ always perfectly “announced” the character of the Father.

Michael Reeves said,

The Word of God, then, is the one who belongs in the deepest closeness with God, and the one who displays the innermost reality of who God is. He is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Heb 1:3). For he is himself God. He is God’s “Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation” (Rev 3:14). Here, then, is the revolution: for all our dreams, our dark and frightened imagin­­ings of God, there is no God in heaven who is unlike Jesus.

In Adam, the human race lost it’s ability to express God’s character. Instead, it displays its slave-driving, conniving, father’s character, the devil, who is the ruler of this age. All we can do is sin, and all our best efforts are just windexing a burnt down estate.

Humiliating for those of us who may have began by counting the cost and and dying to ourselves, but find ourselves out in the middle of the jungle angry, self-loathing, and discontent because this life we signed up for didn’t come with the perks we kind of expected in the back of our minds. Our old man fights and scratches for glory the minute we stop reposing in the work of the cross.

But Jesus is God’s beloved Son in whom He is well pleased (Matt. 3:17) and delights in (Is. 42:1), because He “always does the will of the One who sent Him.”  “First, if there is nothing more precious to the Father than him, there cannot be any blessing higher than him or anything better than him. In every way, he himself must be the ‘very great reward’ of the gospel (Gen 15:1),” writes Michael Reeves. Jesus, and only Jesus, is God’s desired vessel of revelation of Himself.

He always was.

In light of this, as we reflect on Philippians 2 and His relentless love for us and the Father, His contentment in the Father and thus His willingness to lay everything aside to exercise love toward us, we should hope Christ’s life contrasts with the selfish, me-first, I-am-God mentality we claim. Notice that, as God’s Logos, He, in His atoning for our sin, was displaying God’s desire for us to become His sons and daughters and enjoy perfect rest and acceptance in Him. He’s otherwordly. Believe that you and all your best efforts were condemned on the cross with Christ, and let your boast be in the life Christ produces in you by faith.

Every virtue we possess, And every victory won; And every thought of holiness, Are thine, great God, alone.

Pray that the Holy Spirit reveals your deepest darkness so you might become like a child in your faith, never willing to step outside and work among dearly loved sinners without putting on Christ, the perfect Logos of God. As the great Hymn writer John Newton said, “Look unto him… and then compare your sins with his blood, your wants with his fullness, your unbelief with his faithfulness, your weakness with his strength, your inconstancy with his everlasting love.”

Nothing else is acceptable to God in our ministry to the unreached; only Christ is God’s Logos.

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