Archive for March, 2009

Bible, Mission and Metaphor

Monday 23 March 2009

Tim Davy at Redcliffe College in Gloucester has written an interesting post entitled Bible, Mission and Metaphor. He explains how the metaphors that we use to describe everyday activities actually tell a lot about the way we think about these activities.

As well as giving us a fascinating insight into other cultures, looking at metaphors used can also tell us a lot about ourselves and our own attitudes that we may not have realised.

How do we conceptualise mission? Do we take our imagery from Joshua (’mission is a battle’)? Or from the parables (mission is sowing seeds)? What other metaphors might we use? What would ’success’ or ‘failure’ look like according to each metaphor? How might it affect our relationships with those we are seeking to ‘reach’ (another metaphor!)? read more

Although the article looks at biblical metaphors, it started me thinking how in fact we often use metaphors that aren’t biblical at all, and reflect a worldly way of viewing mission that doesn’t line up with God’s heart. I was left wondering to what extent the language we use reflects the way God sees mission, and to what extent it exposes attitudes that are contrary to God’s heart for the nations.

When talking about Bible translation, do we talk about completing a task or sowing seeds? Talking about completing a task may reflect a focus on ourselves and our work, when in fact God invites us to join in with what he is already doing around the world.

Are we advancing towards our goals or working with others to help them achieve theirs? Just as God invites us to join in with what he is doing, he also expects us to be united with other believers around the world. This doesn’t just mean allowing them to be part of what we’re doing, but truly respecting and serving them as they play their part in God’s mission.

Is our aim increased efficiency in reaching people or better relationships in serving people? Western culture may value efficiency, but at the end of the day God’s mission is about him transforming hearts and lives, not us achieving tasks. In our desire to see the most lives changed as quickly as possible, we cannot afford to focus on simply accelerating a process at the expense of real relationships with people.

As Eddie reminded us a couple of days ago

The genius of Vision 2025 was its call to realign ourselves with what God was doing in and through his people worldwide. We need to be constantly working to renew our alignment with God’s mission on an individual and corporate level. read more

Over the last year I have really been challenged as to whether what I’m doing fits in with God’s mission, or if I’m trying to fit God’s mission in with what I’m doing. I still have a long way to go, but I pray that my attitude towards Bible translation is becoming more God-centred and people-centred, and less about completing a task.

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Taking Liberties

Sunday 15 March 2009

Taking Liberties is a shocking, but hilarious polemic documentary that charts the destruction of all your Basic Liberties under 10 Years of New Labour.

Released to coincide with Tony Blair’s departure, the film and the book follow the stories of normal people who’s lives have been turned upside down by injustice – from being arrested for holding a placard outside parliament to being tortured in Guantanamo Bay.

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(view the video in higher resolution here)

While there are many details in the video that are open to debate, the main premise that civil liberties are being eroded in Britain is difficult to argue with. Unfortunately, it’s the kind of issue that we don’t tend to think much about until we’re the ones experiencing injustice.

As the video points out it’s ironic that in trying to defy terrorism, the government is eroding key parts of the democracy that it is trying to protect. Parts of the video reminded me of the TV series 24, where counter-terrorist agents get so focused on stopping a certain terrorist at all costs, that every idea of right and wrong becomes secondary to this focus. It makes for great TV, but isn’t a great way to run a country.

We have to be careful that we’re not so focused on the threat of terrorism that, driven by fear, we believe that anything is acceptable in order to eliminate this threat. Our moral judgments have to be based on striving for what is right rather fearing what is wrong.

The only way to counter terrorism is not through focusing on the threat, which produces fear, but by building a society based on love, justice, truth, respect and unity, as demonstrated so well by both political and religious leaders in Northern Ireland this week.