Archive for February 19th, 2010

Changes come

In roughly 4 months I will be getting married (woo hoo!) and quitting my job (mixture of woo hoo and awww) and moving to Maynooth (woo hoo) and trying to get a job demonstrating anatomy (that means cutting up dead bodies, not posing nude…) in trinity (woo hoo) and thinking of doing a masters degree in anatomy (woo hoo).

This means a number of things:

1) leaving Portadown. I am only beginning to realise that this is going to be “kind of a big deal”. I hope to get all my missing the place and the people out of the way before I actually go.

2) leaving clinical medicine. As mentioned before I touch people for a living. Occasionally I even manage to help them somewhat. I will miss that. I will perhaps (more honestly) miss the daily work process more. The colleagues, the discussions, the times you get it right, the times you get it wrong. I am a junkie when it comes to this stuff. I need to be the person that helps people. I am aware that that may not be as positive as it sounds. It will no doubt do me the world of good

3) having to actually consider money. Those who know me will realise that I am hardly a big spender. I get well paid for a job I love, and share rent in a house with two other guys. I have no debt and no mortgage. In a few months I will be unemployed and married and paying twice the rent I am now. We will not be short on money in any shape or from but I will have to actually consider money. This will also do me the world of good.

4) leaving the rat race. This is the rat race that I suppose that I was never in. Medicine is hugely competitive and career driven. Getting into training jobs is a big deal. There is always pressure to perform in just the right way that NIMDTA (and your colleagues and bosses) want you to. There are lots of good reasons for this. But I want no part in it. While in one sense I find it hugely attractive –  training and titles carry with them a kudos in the working environment, you get respect simply for your grade – I also feel no need for it. Perhaps it is a self-confidence thing on my part. That I feel inferior to others due to my chosen career path. But I only feel this briefly. I know that I am good at what I do, and that if I continue to pursue my knowledge and passion for it then I will undoubtedly be better. I’m not sure I need the paperwork to prove this.

Mission of GOD – 1

This has been somewhat of a blogging hiatus. Blame global warming, blame spending my time to and from Maynooth, blame the economic downturn. Whichever way you look at it that trip to Texas was a while ago now.

I have not been inactive. I perhaps have not paused enough to reflect on any of it.

I have been reading this however:

A simply cracking book by a Belfast guy I saw speak about 3 weeks ago.

It is not exactly easy going – not so much big words and lots of Hebrew, more that it has big ideas that need chewed over.

It has reinforced with me how much my understanding of GOD, the church and my relation to it all has changed quite spectacularly (at least from my perspective) over the years.

I am up to chapter 8 (out of 15), so I figure i’ll give you an update on the salient points so far. If i feel particularly enthused I might start a Scott McKnight/Patrick Mitchell walk through each chapter.

To begin:

He uses the word missional a lot. Missional is one of those words that church people throw around. A word that I felt confused by till I realised I’d understood it for years and just never had the word. A bit like church as community having a bit of a revival even though it’s stuff my Dad’s generation had been doing in Muckley for years without the terminology.

To summarise his view on missional:

Israel had a missional role in the midst of the nations – implying that they had an identity and role connected to GOD’s ultimate intention (or mission) of blessing for the nations

In the new testament setting this meant churches with a mission mindset, willing to engage the culture in order that GOD might fulfil his mission through them.

He describes our mission as:

our committed participation as GOD’s people, at GOD’s invitation and command, in GOD’s own mission within the history of GOD’s world for the redemption of GOD’s creation

Wright’s goal is to help us read the Bible with a missional hermeneutic – or in more simple terms (casue i still have to look up words like hermeneutic and soteriology in Wikipedia every time I read them…) – to read the Bible from the perspective of GOD’s mission. And if we do this we will find great reward in understanding the grand, over arching narrative of the Bible.

He also spends some time trying to shift focus away from us in mission and towards GOD:

it is not so much the case that GOD has a mission for the church in the world but that GOD has a church for his mission in the world

He provides a useful framework for understanding what the Bible tells us of the mission of GOD

– the GOD of purpose in creation

– moves on to the conflict and problem generated by human rebellion against that purpose

– spends most of the narrative journey on the story of GOD’s redemptive purposes being worked out on the stage of human history.

– finishes beyond the horizon of it’s own history with the eschatological hope of new creation.

I also love his description of GOD as one who wills to be known to the ends of the earth.

As an old testament scholar Wright spends a lot of time there, examining the statements of mission, perhaps most clearly seen in the words spoken to Abraham in chapter 12 and how these words are continually drawn upon throughout the history, literature and poetry of the people of Israel. And when this is seen it makes much more sense of what Paul was trying to say.

He also describes well both the particularity of GOD’s relationship with Israel as his covenant people but also the overwhelming universality of GOD’s purpose towards humanity – expressed from the earliest to the latest pages of the Bible.

I hate to say that I’m not sure I have heard teaching like this often in the church. If it was spoken then I didn’t actually hear it. I heard a lot about my sin, about grace and faith and lifestyle, and even a lot about telling the story of the gospel. But without this view of what on earth GOD is actually at, it all seems quite narrow.

It has been a huge joy and awakening (over about 3 or 4 years) to realise that there is more to salvation than redemption from sin. Yes GOD does this, but it is almost the tip of the ice berg in terms of what he is doing.


February 2010