Our faith always becomes most transformational when we are examining our daily steps in light of God’s Word and Jesus’ example. It is in each step that we decide whether we are going to sacrificially follow Christ or follow other influences in our life.
Today’s exposition focused on Ephesians 4:17-6:9. Calisto Odede, a pastor from Nairobi, Kenya, challenged us to watch how we walk. Read Rob Hay’s summary here.
He gave the following breakdown of the passage (via Chris Kidd’s entry in the Global Conversation):
- Walk in newness of life 4:17-32
- Walk in love 5:1-6
- Walk in the light 5:7-14
- Walk in diligence 5:15
Calisto’s talk on the practical realities of living the Christian life, was a perfect preparation for the talk on Humility, Integrity and Simplicity. Ryan Hannah shares his notes on the talk. “Chris Wright (UK) spoke on the issues of personal humility, integrity and simplicity. He said, “The greatest obstacle to the mission of God is his own people.” The modern day idols that entice us away from God are pride and power, popularity and success as well as wealth and greed. These things can be seen in church leaders pursuing status and titles and the prosperity teaching that is popular in much of the world. These teachers are ignoring the teachings on suffering and taking up our cross. On success, he spoke of the manipulation of statistics to make a ministry look bigger than it is or to try and get funding for projects. “We have become a stumbling block to the mission of God and need to be called back to repentance and simplicity.”
The discussion continued as the congress engaged on the issue of Prosperity Gospel. Fermi Adeleye from Nigeria shared how someone he knew had donated his Volkswagon to the church expecting a Mercedes. Fermi said, “God does care for peoples’ needs. But this gospel makes the pursuit of material thing an end in itself.” Here are some key points via Justin Long’s blogging:
- Prosperity Gospel expects physical well being, good health, possessions, position. We equate these things with God’s approval.
- Luke 6:28 (“with the same measure you give, it shall be given to you”) often used to motivate giving, but it is quoted out of context. It is in the context of love and mercy, judge not lest you be judged—not finances.
- Distorts the mission of Christ: to make us rich
- Jesus never taught prosperity.
- Does prosperity point to the cross? It is not good news for the poor. In most cases it is the leader who does better, not the followers.
- It ends up depriving the poor of the dignity and respect they deserve.
- Prosperity is a seduction into delusion.
- Take the plight of the poor seriously and don’t offer shortcuts that don’t work.
- Repent of this “gospel.
- Return to the simplity and humility of the Gospel!
Another key topic of the day was the roles of men and women. To get a sense for this session we turn to twitter:
- @lcwe: marriage enables us to mutually empower each other #lcwe #lcwemenandwomen
- @lcwe: When you picture Adam and Eve in the garden, is Adam standing in front of Eve? #lcwe #lcwemenandwomen
- @lcwe: When we decide how to treat people, we should always look to Jesus as our model. #lcwe #lcwemenandwomen
- @lcwe: What does mutual submission in marriage look like? It looks like equality. #lcwe #lcwemenandwomen
- @lcwe: The pain of segregation is the same pain as gender discrimination #lcwe #lcwemenandwomen
These three topics are amazing examples of how we walk, talk and live on a daily basis. When we think about our commitment to humility, our focus on the things that Jesus cares about rather than material prosperity and our treatment of each other, we cannot help see our need to continue growing closer to the Savior.
In the evening Nicky Gumbel, an Anglican priest and developer of the Alpha course, spoke about the urgency of the Gospel, “Jesus is hope of the world. The Good News of Christ is urgent for such a time as NOW!” He talked about how the Gospel is…true and reasonable, powerful and life changing, both words and actions, and vital and urgent. Read Chris Kidd’s blog for more details.
So in light of the Truth we know, our role as “living stones,” the cosmic reality of God’s plans, and the unity that God expects from His people, we are now being challenged in how our daily actions fit into our commitment to follow Christ. In many ways, today’s talks have matched the second day when we discussed the issues of HIV/AIDS and human suffering. But at the same time, this day was more personal. The talks of today did not focus on how we would respond to the struggles “out there” in the world. Instead it was focused on how we will represent Christ in our daily routine and relationships.
Are you ready and willing to go beyond the academics of theology and the service towards others and follow daily in the steps of your Savior?