Missional Living People… #3 Recognize the Spiritual
A lot of people that speak of being followers of Christ would say that they are trying to be better about the first two elements to missional living that we have dealt with so far. We have heard many studies and sermons on the two subjects of prayer and Bible study. In fact, it might be difficult for readers up until this point to feel like they were really reading anything different than the basic lessons regarding Christian duty or the daily walk that they had already been hearing for a long time.
Those issues are fundamental, as are some of the elements of each of the outline we will be discussing in the series, but now let us turn our attention to the spiritual, the supernatural. A fellow missionary once said to me, and I admit that I have used the quote quite often since, “The most real thing in the universe is the supernatural.”
Missional Living people understand that there is nothing more “real” about life, the world, or anything we encounter than the supernatural.
We cannot get into the Scriptures without recognizing that a veil has been removed for us to see the events of human history from beyond mere human perspective. There is now another agent at work, multiple in fact. There is another power, much greater than our own, that is willing and working in ways we cannot see, but we often see the effects thereof. There is now an enemy, revealed in the Bible, that has been the primary culprit behind the great deceptions against man, and the ongoing temptations and warfare that wages against all that is right and good in God’s creation, including His children. This unseen place has been seen by some in the tangible sense as angels stood before men and women, as the throne of God shone before prophets, as persecuted believers like Stephen, saw the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God before breathing their last breath in this life. Were such things mere hallucinations? Were they the vain imaginations of pretenders and religious pundits? Any fair examination of the Bible itself, its history and compilation, its authors and characters, would reveal that the opposite must be true.
Missional Living people not only understand that the most real thing is the supernatural, but that everything is centered in the spiritual.
Our lives are a strange and complex mixing bowl of ingredients comprised of our feelings, our bodies, our mental capacities and this other, more fuzzy (to use the theological term) aspect of our being, which is the soul. The soul before Christ has entered is truly dead. It is not spiritually alive in Christ, but it is made so by what we call the regeneration of the Holy Spirit when we are “saved”. Thus, with our souls made alive in Christ, we have what Scripture also calls “the mind of Christ” and are hence capable of spiritual discernment and godly wisdom. The truest that a person is, the most real form of the person, is what is happening in the soul, whether it is still dead in its trespasses and at enmity with God, despite any good works or vain attempts to gain God’s favor, or whether that soul is now an adopted child of the Living God, given no more to the spirit of slavery to sin, but rather the spirit of adoption that cries out to God from within us, “Abba!” or quite literally, “Papa!”
Once we as Christians begin to take on the perspective of heaven toward matters of earth, we cannot help but also see people in the same fashion, and suddenly the lost make more sense, the addict in his slavery to sin, the possessed in his chains of darkness, held captive by the enemy still to do his dark will, the backward and at times crazed logic of this world that we hear and see on the surface starts to become more plainly understood when life is examined from the supernatural, or spiritual perspective of humanity. Thus, the burden of lostness and sharing the Gospel becomes so much more apparent as well, and all that is outward for the missional living person fades into the question of the soul and its relation to Jesus Christ.
Missional Living People recognize the battle for the soul because of their spiritual perspective.
When what you see in life is less and less about the color of skin, ethnicity, dress, language and the cultural differences around the world, there is less and less to cloud the eternal issues. It is not because of where a person was born that he is lost, nor because of how he thinks or even does. It is because he was born into a fallen and sin cursed humanity in a world that moans and groans for its redemption. And if humanity, in an isolated state, untainted further but in that we are lost and without Christ, in need of a Savior, were presented with such truth without it being twisted or packaged in false doctrines, I dare say many more on earth would be saved, but we have an enemy, don’t we? There is the “father of lies", who has been a murderer from the beginning. When he lies, he speaks of his own nature, and knows no other way to be, according to Jesus. I once heard it said that satan spent all of the era of the Old Testament seeking to prevent the arrival of Christ, to prevent the Church from being born. Once it had been birthed, and he was judged, he walked down the isle and sought to work from within its members. There is certainly some truth to that, just ask anyone who has worked in church ministry for a couple of years. However, the statement is still fairly centered in a Bible-Belt mentality where local culture has been steeped in church, or as some call it, Gospel-saturated. Venture out into the 10-40 window, or even into post-Christian era cultures, such as what is plaguing much of the United Kingdom, and you find the enemy quite at large deceiving men and women against the truth of Christ, leading humanity as fast as he can to godlessness, or the idolatry of self. The missional living perspective recognizes that men and women have never come to conclusions about the soul, God, or eternity apart from the influence and activity of the anti-divine serpent and his legions, and we have been sent as ambassadors to give light and salt to what is that dark and tasteless life apart from the reality of God’s love.
Missional Living people are not only aware of the battle, but of an already won war in the history of humanity, and therefore are always on the advance of God’s Kingdom, not the retreat.
The old hymn, “Onward Christian Soldiers” has been colored as politically incorrect and reminiscent of a darker period in the Church where crusades stained our name as Christians. However, much of the content and battle cry is appropriate for the missional life. We are more than conquerors through Christ. We are tearing down strongholds and bringing thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. We are containers for the Living God, vessels unto honor and temples of HIs Spirit. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Such passages press us not into dark corners of fear and submission to the enemy’s will, but rather into victory and joy, knowing the power of the Name, and that the end has already been revealed. There is no more need for the Christ-follower to walk as if Christ is defeated and of no result for our daily lives, as if were the Sabbath whilst Christ still lay in the grave. There is no more power against us that can prosper when God is on our side. Indeed, the missional living person claims the promise that if God is for us, then who can be against us?
It is these perspectives on what life actually is that are the driving force in the daily agenda and “mission” of missional living people. They see heaven, earth, people, and the advancement of God’s Kingdom through the spectacles of the supernatural, where it cannot be but perceived that God is good, sovereign, loving, mighty to save and calling us to join Him in the supernatural co-laboring work of spreading the Gospel He has made through Christ to redeem mankind from spiritual and eternal death to be together with Him forever.