Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy Giraffes

This morning's worship was taken by Bart Buell, a retired OMF missionary who served in Japan. It's good to share the exhortations that we receive in the body, so there follows some brief thoughts from his address.

In Philipians 2 we are told about Christ's mission, his kenosis, when he was made in the likeness of men, humbling himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. This cannot be simply reduced to a story of Out of the Comfort Zone into the Challenge Zone, but Christ's incarnation leads to his life as the Servant of the Lord, the New Covenant ideal as the Second Adam.

And Christ's command to us is that we must Go. Out from Jerusalem, the disciples of Christ leave the Comfort Zone of the upper room or the mountain and into the Challenge Zone of mission to all nations. It is a difficult journey. But in making this journey, the Holy Spirit begins to equip us with:
  • Humility (even Christ's journey involved humbling);
  • Fruitfulness (every branch that produces fruit, he cleans, often through our difficult experiences in the Challenge Zone); and
  • Resilience (Isaiah spoke of God's empowering of the Weary and the Tired and the Stumbling).

The journey to, and life in, the Challenge Zone can be extremely difficult, but it is where we meet Jesus and His Power through His Spirit. Whilst in Japan, the Japanese children called Bart Buell 'Giraffe'; he's a big guy (one called him 'a phenomenal growth')! In cross-cultural mission, and indeed in our life of missional service as we leave the Comfort Zone and journey to the Challenge Zone, we become giraffes. We feel out of place - and in a sense we are - but, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit of Christ, we can be Happy Giraffes.