The Ideal Ministry 4/11

In Memory of the 100th anniversary of the death of P. T. Forsyth this year (2021), I will outline his eleven points in the chapter entitled ‘The Ideal Ministry’ (as printed in The British Congregationalist, 18th October, 1906), in the book Revelation Old and New.

4. The Ideal Ministry: MISSIONARY

“The ideal ministry must be missionary. It must be in the apostolic succession. Here again it is the organ of the Church. The Church is nothing if not apostolic. But apostolic in the true sense of the word – missionary and evangelical. We are gaining clearer views of what the Apostles really were. They were not Bishops. They were missionaries. evangelists on the great scale. They were not organisers, administrators, hierarchs. They were heralds, preachers. They were not there to regulate enthusiasm, but rather to rouse and spread it.

They were firebrands much more than fire brigades. They stirred the spirit, they did not quench it. The ideal ministry must be missionary at home or abroad. It must have the propagandist passion, the contagious secret, the universal dream, the pity, the love, the power of faith, the pity for mankind.

But I will not dwell on that here. We are all convinced, of the missionary nature of the Church and ministry.

Letting go – Missionally speaking

letting goI am a father. My children are the first of both my parent’s family lines to grow up in a Christian home. As a young man of twenty one, I had a lot of catching up to do regarding the Christian faith, when God actually invaded my personal space and started asking some pretty searching questions of me. I never went to Sunday school as a youth, and as far as God was concerned, I couldn’t have given a hoot to whatever ‘religious people’ said and claimed. I don’t even think I went into a church. My life and family were God-less.  We weren’t barbaric savages eating the flesh of our neighbours (not that I remember anyway), but we were, when the two-edged sword is speaking it’s truth – God-less.

Strangely, I am not aware that I even came across what I now know as re-formed, redeemed, renewed, born-again, evangelical, bible believing, Spirit-filled, rescued sinners turned saints – i.e. a Christian, as we say in the West, or a Nazarene, as Christians call themselves in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.

I couldn’t have given a hoot to something I didn’t understand or think about in people I never met (I was thoroughly secularised). Until God met me. That’s the introduction to my indifferent-atheist-secularist-1980’s materialist-turned follower of Jesus (and those details can wait for another time) life.  But God met me.

Three years previously, as a goofy teenager, I met this gorgeous woman, one of those God-botherers, but I couldn’t take my eyes off her (I still can’t). This is how it panned out (minimalism at it’s best): I met my (future) wife; God met me; we met our children. Our children thus grew up in a home with both parents madly in love with each other and God!

I am so proud of my kids (er, adults now)! My daughter, beautiful – clever – deep (like her mum), is my jewel. She could do anything she wants in this world. If she wanted to be an engineer, boom, done. If she wanted to be a writer, she could. And she may yet well be. But she has chosen to keep her heart and her ears and her mind and her life open to whatever God has for her. She is currently exploring missionary possibilities on the other side of the world. God bless the other side of the world!

The cost of missions; the cost of following Jesus does not just effect the individual concerned, it affects the whole family. I am certain my daughter could command a high standard of living in whatever she sets her mind to. She could earn high. She could do what she wants, when she wants, how she wants.

But she has chosen another way, the Way – of Jesus. Surrendering her God-given skills and ability unto the service of Jesus Christ is surely my highest honour as a father and my daughters greatest decision. There is a lot of uncertainty, in income, in security, in future decisions. But my attitude is simple: that’s what the majority world have to live with anyway. Us Westerners are so soppy and soft sometimes. We want secular/materialist/godless ‘securities’ (pension, salary, safety, etc) for our children, we often desire them as parents to make ourselves feel more secure in our God-less Chrisianised faith.

In fact, what we often truly want (our secret desires) for our children, is a successful secular/materialist life with a veneer of respectable Christianity (i.e. the Western Church – i.e. we want them saved but we don’t want their salvation to cost too much to our safe and mediocre lives). We want for our children a suburban piety – a Christianity without heart, a Jesus without the Cross and mission without the cost. We play with Jesus, and frankly, he can keep his Cross. When we talk about missions, what we really mean is someone else, somewhere else! We don’t mean me, we don’t mean here and we don’t mean now! But Jesus does!

And yet, it is not easy to let my daughter go into a ‘missional life’ (all life is missional I know), but it just isn’t easy to let go. I know I have to let God be God and, frankly, grow up in my faith. I have to see that when God calls, He calls. When He speaks, we’d better listen. When He sends, we’d better let go.

Good bye my darling daughter. I’ll see you soon. I am so proud of you for daring to believe God at His most wonderful Word. I couldn’t ask for more, even though my humanity has tried to make me ask for less.

I love you
Dad xxx

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