LIVING UNDER HIS LORDSHIP!
Greetings from a cold and wet Cape!
In your hands you have a very important document. It is the first edition of our Christian Worldview Network M2M. Let me explain what it is all about.
The focus of it all is Jesus. The vision for this network has emerged out of a group of South Africans who are Christians; in other words they have had a '1 Corinthians 12:3b experience'. In that verse Paul reminds us that it is only by the illuminating work of the Spirit in our lives that we come to the profound confession of Jesus as Lord. Thus a 1 Corinthians 12:3b experience is one in which the Spirit acts upon the core of our beings and opens us to the reality of Jesus as Lord.
Now of course that experience is common to all Christians. The preparedness to confess Jesus as our Lord is the sign of a genuine work of the Spirit in a person's life. However while all Christians make this confession, in practice not all Christians take the implications of this confession seriously for all of life. In this respect it is vital to note that the Spirit leads us to confess Jesus as LORD. This is to recognise that He is rightly King over all of life and not just King over the institutional church or just over our so-called "spiritual life". Colossians brings this out most and clearly when it not only says of Christ that He is "the head of the body, the church" (Colossians 1:18), but mentions in the same breath that "by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible... all things were created by Him and for Him." (Colossians 1:16)
M2M Issue 1, June 1992 p.2
This is what we have seen: (an adaptation of Isaiah 2:1-3)
In the last days
the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established
as chief among all the rugged mountains of South Africa
it will be raised above the hills
and all South Africans will stream to it
Xhosa, Afrikaner, Zulu, and Englishman
will come and say, "Come,
let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths."
Come, brothers and sisters
let us walk together in his paths.
The scary thing about a Christian worldview is that it makes us each responsible. No longer can we leave the pastoral minister with the load of being a 'full-time' minister. Now we see that we are all in the full time service of Christ and that means a call to excellence and integrity! Consequently the success of this network will depend upon each member taking their service of Christ seriously and getting into the dialogue at a serious level. Do please write or draw or whatever! Even if it's only a response or a disagreement or a suggestion.
Can I make a suggestion ? The sort of thing that needs to happen, as I see it, is the following: Anthea Garmen has provided us with a most stimulating review of a new SA book on feminism. Her review tells me that this is going to be a controversial book among Christians. It would be great if a group of our readers could get hold of "Women Hold up Half the Sky", read it, identify the key issues in this respect for South Africans, and dialogue and write about a Christian approach to this area of contemporary life. Furthermore the editor of this book is at UWC just near where I stay. Perhaps one of us Capetonians could get in touch with Denise Ackermann and interview her for our M2M?
Do you see the sort of dynamic that could be initiated? It can happen, but only as prayerfully and in true commitment to Jesus we work hard to get our vision into practice.
Comprehensive, communal and contextual. These three words sum up for me what this network is about. The goal is the development of an understanding and practice of a Christian approach to every area of life in South Africa.
There has been something of a groundswell of vision in these regards in our circles over the past few years. More recently we have felt the need to get a basic structure in place and so we have set up a small national committee. The M2M (many to many - see advertising article by Craig for details) is our first project whereby we aim to facilitate dialogue in the developing network. The idea is that we use it as a vehicle to communicate with each other, to become aware of like-minded Christians in similar fields of service to our own and to promote the richness of a multi-disciplinary dialogue. The M2M reflects our commitment to theory and practice. You will find academic as well very practical articles; philosophic treatises(!) as well as photographs of an artist's work; book reviews as well as reports of a visit to L'Abri. Our hope is that the M2M will provide an immediate structure to facilitate the growth of what we already see happening.
Hence the network. As some of us have caught the vision we have been amazed to discover Christians with similar vision all over South Africa. Some have been working in this area for decades and have built up treasures of scholarship and practice. Others of us have just recently woken up to the need for a Christian worldview. Wherever we have come from many of us have become increasingly aware that we cannot operate in isolation. The demands of the day are immense and we see the need for like-minded South Africans of all backgrounds to interact with each other, to build a relational and informational network and together to promote a Christian worldview in all areas of life.
Not only a comprehensive vision, but also a community based one. And then a vision which is contextual. We are South Africans and we have to work at living under the Lordship of Christ in our country. Now of course South Africa is part of the developing global city and we do and will be affected by world movements. However we must operate primarily where we are. The new South Africa and the effects of the global city are upon us. The need for a Christian understanding of the changes and of what is coming is a matter of life and death and we must therefore give ourselves urgently to the task of a Christian worldview in relation to South Africa and of course to Africa.
Our network has its foundation in this utterly comprehensive understanding of the Lordship of Christ. This is why I have entitled this first editorial of our CWN M2M "Living under His Lordship!"
Confessing Jesus to be Lord means that we must take seriously the implications of His reign in every part of life as He has made it. Now that is no easy matter! One need only ask a question like, "What are the implications of His reign for the economic structures of the new South Africa?" to realise that such questions are more easily asked than answered. However if we are serious about Jesus then we must ask and seek answers to such questions. The good news is that we are not called to do this alone. For not only is our network founded in a comprehensive understanding of the Lordship of Christ but it is deeply committed to a community understanding of His people.
We are not called to be His people living under His Lordship alone. In fact we can never succeed in our calling to be salt and light in a world in rebellion against its rightful King in isolation from one another. And certainly we will never be able to develop a Christian vision for all of life in SA and start to get it into practice alone. No, such a comprehensive vision of Christ's Lordship will only be able to become incarnate in our lives in community. The battle is enormous and we need to work with like-minded Christians in this regard.
Our concern therefore has been not only to confess Him to be LORD but to take seriously and explore the implications of that confession for all that has been created by HIM! God has made this world in its totality. He has made us as whole beings with emotions and sexuality and the need few to eat, drink and be imaginative. He has made a world in which art works can be made, in which families emerge and in which economic structures are required. Yes, gathering together with His people to adore Him, to hear His written Word and to encourage one another is part of life as He has made it; but that is just the point - it is only part of life as He has made it. A vitally important part? Absolutely Yes! But still only a part!
There is much more to life as God has made it than gathering for church meetings. And the point is that if we really mean it when we confess Jesus to be LORD then we are going to want to live under His reign in all these areas - not just in what we do when we gather as church, but also in our family life, in our political life, in our imaginative life, in the economic dimensions of our lives and so on. It's not therefore that surprising then, is it, that Paul, with such an exalted view of Christ can exhort us in the following way:
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."