What Does a Tribal Church Planter Need? (John 1:3, Pt. 5)

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His character is written into the grain of the universe so intimately that even to think against Christ the Logos you must think against logic and descend into folly (Ps. 14:1). In his world, our faculties work better the more they are harnessed to faith in Him. Then we are able to be more logical, more vibrant, more imaginitive, more creative, for we are working with the grain. –Mike Reeves

As I wrote here, the “tiniest details” in our slice of the work being done to reach the unreached of Papua New Guinea looks, tastes, and smells alot different than what’s in my hometown, Princeton, Illinois. The beauty of Christ in Kuman, viewed in both contrasts and parallels, can and should be shared with you all, not so you can rejoice in us, but in the one in whom the Universe will be perfectly summed up in. It might be crazy out there, but even the darkness causes the character and worth of Christ to glow more brilliantly.

Let’s continue our exposition of Jesus’ life as told by John. Why are we doing it? Not because we need a small dose of religion to make it through our day, that’s immensely short-sided, isn’t it? Heresy. That’d be like saying we need to take a few breaths to make it the next 80 years.

Popular Christianity loves to talk about learning more about Jesus, but why and how do we do it? Do we learn more about Jesus because He set a great example for us to follow? Nope. We’re slaves to our sin nature — dead! so finding strength to live like Jesus is a pipe dream. A dead man has a better chance to start a bowling team than to live a perfect, righteous, life.

Do we learn more about the kindness of Jesus so we can live more irresponsibly, using our Christian liberty for evil, as popular Christianity does? No. As missionaries who love and walk in the light, we should always be confronted by the unmistakeable righteousness of Jesus and our need to repent. Grace properly understood leads to walking worthy of the Gospel.

We learn about Jesus because the more our eyes are set on Him — His Person and everything He’s already done — the more we’re disgusted with ourselves. When we’re disgusted with ourselves, we turn to Jesus. Only then are we free to be transformed into His likeness; then our lives will be glorifying to the Father. Christ is our life. Regardless of how charitable we are with our time, if it isn’t Christ performing for us we might as well be convicted murderers! Anything done outside of Christ’s strength is sin to same degree as the worst evil acts imaginable.

Only Christ pleases the Father, so our responsibility is to walk by faith in the Newness of Life God has provided to us freely by His son’s death and resurrection. So knowing Jesus is literally a matter of life and death for us missionaries. If we build on any other foundation, live any way other than by faith in Jesus, we get nothing but fruitless death. What a waste of time and resources for our supporting churches. But I digress. It’s a necessary digression though, isn’t it?

Moving on,

“All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” (John 1:3)

All beauty to be found throughout the whole creation, is but the reflection of the diffused beams of that Being. –Jonathan Edwards

Just as in Genesis, where everything that came into being did so because of God’s spoken word, and just as in Proverbs 3:19; 8:30, where Wisdom is the means by which all exists — God’s Word, understood in the Prologue to be a personal being, created everything.

Paul says that all things were created “by him” and even “for him”, and that “in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:16–17). “…all things have been created through him and unto him; and he is before all things, and in him all things consist…that in all things he might have the preeminence.”

Watchman Nee in Christ, the Sum of All Spiritual Things:

We should understand that Christianity is Christ, and the life of a Christian is also Christ. Do not pile up a thousand good items and view that heap as Christian life. Were you able to gather up all the humilities on earth as well as assemble tens of thousands of other good traits, you still could not create a Christian. All that can be seen is a chain of things; one cannot see Christ this way…

“For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory. (Col. 3.3-4)”

Nee continues,

 I am waiting for the day when all things—both things in the heavens and those upon the earth—shall be summed up in Christ. On that day the word of God will be fulfilled in that Christ is all. Let me challenge you. How can you expect Christ to be all if today you do not know Him as your all? Even now Christ will become all our things. God has given His own Son to us; God has given himself to us. So that Christ must be all to us today. There should not be any division between Christ and things. Nothing is spiritual, only Christ is. He is all and in all. The reality of this must begin to evidence itself now in the church and with us. May we declare today that Christ is all and that He is in all. He is in my patience, He is in my gentleness, He is in my love. For He is all.

He came to reveal the Father (John 1:14, 18); and the work of revelation began in Creation, because Creation reveals God,

The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge… (Ps. 19:1-2)

Seeing and knowing Christ in all circumstances while working in the most remote areas of the world is a missionary’s true goal. The sun rising every morning should remind us of His faithful work as High Priest for us in the Heavens. The weeping and moaning of hopeless funeral-attendees should cause us to work harder for our people to know “The Resurrection and the Life.” The weakness, humiliation, and melancholy we experience day-to-day should cause us to draw from our Living Water.

Jonathan Edwards once preached,

We admire at the beauty of creation, at the beautiful order of it, at the glory of the sun, moon, and stars… In the beauty of creation, we have reason from the beauty of the sun to admire at the invisible glory of that God whose fingers have formed it…The beauty of trees, plants, and flowers, with which God has bespangled the face of the earth, is delightful; . . . the beauty of the highest heavens is transcendent; the excellency of angels and the saints in light is very glorious: but it is all deformity and darkness in comparison of the brighter glories and beauties of the Creator of all.

The Hymn-writer, John Newton wrote,

Pray for me, that my heart may be looking to Jesus for peace, wisdom, and strength. Without him all is waste and desert. I trust the great desire of my soul is that Christ may be all in all to me, that my whole dependence, love, and aim, may center in him alone…’None but Jesus,’ is my motto.

The sum total of all things is Christ, the means and purpose of Creation. It pleased the Father to bestow all of this honor on the Son. Anything that can be of worth and added at the end of time, is Christ. Anything we know, if Christ isn’t in it, should be unknown. Whatever pulls us away, distracts, or curbs our desire to know Jesus, is, as I believe J.I. Packer once said, our enemy as tribal missionaries. Our war is fought on the spiritual level, and it is won by focusing on the Victor.

I went to our main town today to buy some sweet potatoes, cucumbers, and diapers. I explained to some men that, when I go to town and use the Kuman language, I immediately get surrounded by 100’s of folks, freeze up, and get embarrassed. The men replied, “Ah, you’re a landowner, you can do whatever you want and say whatever you want. No one’s gonna’ make fun of you because of the power you have as a landowner.”

That’s unbelievably true around here. Now, imagine I owned the world, or, better yet, the universe. How much honor and attention would I deserve? What if I actually was the creator, the agent with which everything was made, and nothing would exist if not for me wanting to do it. Everyone would owe their existence to me!

What a God we serve, that He would create a world so He could demonstrate His loveliness perfectly, so we could bask in it at all times. And that He would love us so completely that He would remove the barrier we alone put between  us and a relationship with Him, our sin. And that whoever believers, would actually receive and be able to enjoy the love the Father and the Son experienced from eternity. It’s all about Jesus, and when we live and move as missionaries in that reality, we won’t feel dissatisfied. What a horrible disease dissatisfaction is!

Finally, Edwards goes on to say,

When we see beautiful airs of look and gesture, we naturally think the mind that resides within is beautiful. We have all the same, and more, reason to conclude the spiritual beauty of Christ from the beauty of the world; for all the beauties of the universe do as immediately result from the efficiency of Christ, as a cast of an eye or a smile of the countenance depends on the efficiency of the human soul.

“May the personal Lord be all our countable things. May everything in us be living and full of life so that people may see Christ when they see these things.”  –Nee

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3 comments

  • Hi Justin, l’m not good at writing. But know that I believe the Lord has placed you and your ministry in my heart. I’m an elder in the church I service in. I would like to know how myself and Jacob’s Destiny Church could be a support to the work of the Lord that you are a part of. I want to present this to my pastor, then to the congregation. We’re a small congregation, but I believe the Lord can use us to further the gospel through you and your ministry. Please send me any information you see fit the I can use to present this to my pastor. The labor you and your fellow workers are doing is great. You all are in my prayers. Thank you.
    By His grace and for His glory.

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