Bible, Mission and Metaphor

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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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3 Responses to “Bible, Mission and Metaphor”

  1. That’s life … » What is our aim? Says:

    […] 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. (read the whole post) […]

  2. prof penguin Says:

    I’m with you bruv.

    It’s too easy to acquiesce in a rat-race mentality. I’ve tried not to, but the temptations from the surrounding culture don’t seem to get any weaker.

    What I’m sure of is if God loves people, we as his family members can too (and ought to, quite honestly). If we truly love people and wish for them to know God’s love for them, efficiency might find it’s proper place.

    I (for the record) err on the side of seed-sowing. In the case of a plant that grows, i might be able to predict an ideal final product (based on a picture!), but actually, knowing that I’m not ultimately responsible for the end result is not only more exciting, but really quite liberating.

  3. Kenn Swanson Says:

    I see the point being made about planning in that sooo often we make plans and get involved in “activity” and the TRINITY seldom has a chance to be any thing more than the occasional Consultant rather than the Head/Leader. Our praying skills[verbalizing skills] are good but our praying skills [listening skills] are poor.
    Thus the “swarming” concept is a planning strategy using different words but giving room for continual “listening” so God can direct our “re-alignment”. I would be interested in what the process of “re-alignment” looks like and how would we make these concepts apply to missiologicl/theological base for LLI/V 2025.

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