Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Reflections on the Tree of Life: Who is My Neighbor?

A young man once asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” He was asking to be affirmed in the tight boundary of Judaism but Jesus blew him and everyone else standing there away when he told the story of the Good Samaritan. Both the Jewish Priest and Temple Assistant walked right past the injured man; it was his enemy, the Samaritan that stopped to help him.

Jesus expanded the boundary of neighbors that day. We are in a period of history where technology has also redefined our definition of “neighbor.” One hundred years ago, everyone was clear that our neighbors were the ones that lived in close proximity to us. Now, literally, the world is our neighbor as we often know more about the lives of people thousands of miles away from us, than those who live on our street.

Missio Lux is living the expansion of neighbor! Our simple, organic, flexible structure has enabled us to multiply into four continents. When we gather in Seattle, it’s easy to think, “this is who we are as Missio Lux,” but we have brothers and sisters passionately following Jesus in Denver, South Korea, Holland and Africa.

So, this begs the question, how do we live in community when we are geographically separated from one another? This is a good question and one that myself and a few others have been wrestling with for quite some time. We don’t have all the answers but we are starting to get clarity in some ways.

The Bible has two strong themes running through it: covenant relationship and kingdom partnership. Jesus taught us that we have two commandments: the Great Commandment which is to “love God, our neighbor and ourselves”, and the Great Commission which teaches us to “go and make disciples.” These two commandments directly line up with covenant relationship and kingdom partnership.

So, it makes sense that we should follow these two themes in our relationships and partnerships with Missio Lux around the world. Our common love for God is the glue that holds us together, our organic relationship with one another helps to build community beyond our close geography, and our desire to see people become passionate followers of Jesus ignites our kingdom missios.

Our identity is developing around these two themes of family and kingdom.

I like to think of our Missio Lux family as an extended family. A good example of an extended family gathering is Thanksgiving. When I was growing up and we gathered with aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, we had a lot in common through our blood relationships, but we were also very different. We had different interests and lifestyle; but we always enjoyed being together a few times a year. This is very much like it is with Missio Lux. We have a common DNA, but we are also very different, so the rhythm of gathering and dispersing works well for us.

One of our strong values in Missio Lux is kingdom partnerships; as we believe that we can do more together than we can apart. God has given each of us something special to contribute to the whole. It follows then, that the more that we begin to recognize the valuable part that each location and missio community has to offer to the whole, the more that we will grow and expand.

One of Missio Lux’ greatest strengths is our commitment to and passion for prayer. When we committed ourselves to set aside the first week of January to pray, and used the prayer booklet together, we experienced a connection and unity that transcended miles. It was exciting to hear that the Lord was speaking the same themes to many of us; even though we live in different states and countries.

Missio Lux is now committed to take four weeks a year to pray with a prayer booklet; that will continue to take us deeper with Jesus and wider with one another. These weeks will coincide with our two beginnings: the beginning of the calendar year and school year, as well as preparation for two New Testament Celebrations: Easter and Pentecost.

We have also just launched a Prayer Wall.

In Nehemiah, they had both guards and builders on the wall; therefore, protecting the process of the wall they were building. We are seeking to do the same with having each missio community praying for and being prayer for by two other missio communities. This will build our connection and our protection with and for one another.

Technology makes all this connection possible.

We have seen how the organizers of the revolution in Egypt used Facebook to mobilize. Last week, I skyped with a couple of leaders from Power Surge in Holland. The possibilities are endless for how we can connect with the tool of technology. Our website is also a great way to tell our stories, just like the days of the family Bible and scrapbooks told the stories in the past.

One thing is for certain: we are not static in Missio Lux. I can’t wait to see how the Lord will continue to direct us and connect us for the future.

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