Friday, November 18, 2011

Boma Reflections: It's Not About Me

Another one of the amazing things I learned from my mission trip to Boma, South Sudan was a realization of how we as Americans, Westerners, and people in general tend to make the Gospel into something it's not - and a vision for what the true message of Jesus is. Here's what I learned:

The beautiful children of Upper Boma
We make the Gospel too small. We personalize it so that it fits me, saying that God loves me and died for me to give me eternal life. While this is true, it is a wholly insufficient representation of God's plan. There's certainly a personal application to God's message of salvation, and that is an integral part of the Christian's faith relationship with our Creator. His predestination of my personal life to an eternity in paradise is an incredible gift. But this way of thinking sacrifices the full greatness, span, and scope of God's redemption.

Focusing solely on how the Gospel affects my life and ignoring how the Gospel impacts the entire cosmos - the whole created order - shrinks God into something He is not and makes His message about something it is not. It makes the Gospel center on me, rather than on Christ.


Micheal telling Boma kids about God's big love for them
We need to make the Gospel too big. Wait, is that even possible? What would it mean to make it "too big"? In Boma, I was in a faraway corner of the earth, having spent days of traveling and thousands of dollars to share the message of God's love. It was a huge sacrifice and I felt it. And yet now that it's in the past I have a sense that my perspective is still not big enough - that, in fact, I'm not convinced my mind can wrap around the actual bigness of the Gospel's impact.

The universe is an incredibly huge place with immeasurable and incomprehensible limits; likewise, it is magnificently tiny with immense complexities. In this light, I don't think it's possible to make God's redeeming love too big. In other words, human brains are not capable of grasping the infinite cost and saving that happened because of the cross. But this does not mean we shouldn't try! That's one wonderful part of receiving His good news - it's always exciting and never unsatisfying to attempt to understand and appreciate its vastness.

A biblical model of the diverse church under one King
With a perspective this big, there's no way the Gospel can center on me. If anything, it's humbling to realize how great God is and yet He loves all He created deeply, personally, and purposefully. It means that my spiritual transformation is part of a greater purpose - the spiritual transformation of my family and friends, neighbors, community, city, nation, and eventually the whole world so that one day "every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father," (Philippians 2:10-11).

One last thought... With an accurate view of the good news of Jesus, my responsibility changes. When the Gospel is too small, I can remain safe and comfortable where I'm at because it's all about me. However, when the Gospel is too big, I must respond to Jesus and take His message of love and hope to the literal ends of the earth.


For me, going to Boma taught me just that.

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