I had two delightful surprises today. One in the morning, and one in the evening right now. Thanks Dion Forster for your encouraging words. We have so much in common, and yet we live and serve in such differing contexts. Of course, besides being able to film while driving, our common interests cover a wide range of concerns from theology to social justice, then from blogging to using social media in general, there’s also the more academic side of things and all things missional, the list goes on.
Of course, one strong bond is none other than, in Dion’s words, the “desire to follow the person and ways of Jesus.” Dion on further gives a superb elaboration of what that means for us. He simply articulates so wonderfully what’s burning in my own heart, and what bubbles in my mind constantly. Thanks Dion. I’m looking forward to our next cup of coffee or fruit juice somewhere in the world.
* * *
I am blessed with many wonderful friends! I relate to many of them because we share at least one common interest. There are a few others with whom I feel a closer affinity because we share some deeper and more significant common values. Then there are those among whom I am privileged to be counted, because we share a common approach to our faith in Christ.
My friend Sivin is one such friend.
Since we first met in Malaysia in 2007 we have stayed in good contact. Here’s what I wrote in reflection of our first meeting:
Yesterday I made a new friend, Rev. Sivin Kit, he is a theologian, and pastor, and to our amazement we found that we have so many things in common! Rev. Kit kindly collected me from Kuala Lumpur at the end of the MPC to bring me to the ‘Seminari theoloji Malaysia‘. He is a past graduate of the seminary, and now serves as a Lutheran pastor in KL.
As Sivin and I talked I was amazed to discover just how many things we have in common as persons (for one thing we’re the same age, but for another we are both avid bloggers! Please take a look at Sivin’s blog here: Sivin Kit’s Garden. Sivin is also the co-ordinator for ’emergent Malaysia’, a network of pastors and laity that are engaged in the conversations of the emergent Church movement. He knows so much more about both the theology, and the ideals, of this movement than I do! What is more, Sivin hosted Brian Mclaren on his visit to Malaysia (I even got to eat in the same restaurant as they ate!) Thanks Sivin for your hospitality, friendship, and patient engagement with me!
Sivin and I remain close. We have a common desire to follow the person and ways of Jesus.
Of course there are as many ways to following Jesus as there are people, since true discipleship of Christ is expressed and discovered in a loving relationship with Jesus as savior and Lord. For each of us this journey has meant that we’ve had to go beyond some of the boundaries of conventional expressions of the Christian faith. Of course the aims of these careful explorations in faith are pretty similar to those of conventional Christian communities, i.e., to forge loving obedience, to seek true transformation, and to encourage authentic and courageous living with Jesus and those who Jesus loves (in that last part of the sentence you can read ‘Jesus loves everyone, not just Christians ‘like you’ or Christians ‘like me’. Heck, Jesus has a special love for people who do not yet recognized His love!’).
Many find such a radically inclusive Christian position offensive. Others feel unsettled at attempts to discover new depths in authentic Christian living. For some the thought of uncertainty that is brought about by change is simply too much to bear.
And so, there are times where we are misunderstood. There are other times where we face rejection for our approach to the Christian faith. I have come to expect this. As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t expect people to be able to understand my theology in its entirety – even I don’t understand myself fully!
Thankfully, we are not alone on this journey. There are millions of believers, all across the globe, who are not satisfied with ‘mere Christianity’. There are many faithful servants of Christ who are serious about servanthood. Many believe that it truly is God’s intention to transform the world, and not only to fill the Church. And so we stand together in a loose affiliation of discovery. We are bound less by a common set of truths than by a recognition that God’s gracious love for the world is mystery of grace that requires a tangible response. We are frail and imperfect servants of a gracious and powerful God! Our contexts differ, and so do our responses – but our desire is largely the same; faithfulness to Christ and His Kingdom.
Here’s a wonderful video of my friend Sivin Kit at the Transform conference (with Brian Mclaren). It gives a great overview of Sivin’s ministry and context.
From this video you’ll see that Sivin and I have one other thing in common… the ability to film while driving!
Please visit Sivin’s blog here – you will find hours of wonderful reading. Many incredible resources, and enough challenging thoughts to sustain both your mind and your soul!
* * *