Inner~View #75: Compelled by Love to Pray, Care & Share
Phil Miglioratti, NPPN Founder / IBSA Prayer Consultant, interviewed Philip Nation, co-author of Compelled By Love
Phil ~ Early in the book you write:
"Our prayer is that God will use Compelled by Love to help transform your thinking and actions ...
We hope you will feel His compelling call to carry the gospel into your missions fields of family, neighborhoods, and communities."
It seems we are shifting our emphasis from only teaching mission theology to missional thinking. We remain committed to the biblical teachings on missions but we are also recognizing the critical need to transform our thinking . . .
Philip ~ It is not just a matter of our thinking – although it can often use some adjusting. The shift from Missiology being an academic matter to a church matter calls for a significant change in our perspective of the community in which we live. The danger we must guard against is that we move Missiology from the seminary to the ministerial ranks and feel it is enough. My call is for pastors to further equip those they lead with a missional perspective. In other words, ensure that believers look through the lens of eternity and mission in all of their relationships.
Phil ~ Your statement also reflects another shift of emphasis from an almost exclusive focus on witnessing to individuals to also recognizing the need to develop evangelistic strategies that reach both neighbors and neighborhoods.
Philip ~ When we look at the Scriptures, we see a call to care for the cities in which we live. It is a both/and rather than aneither/or. We must witness to the individuals and be concerned for the subdivisions, communities, school zones, towns, suburbs, and cities in which we live.
Phil ~ Has the 21st century church in America ignored, forgotten, misunderstood or simply disobeyed the verse you use as the theme of the book: "For Christ's love compels us" (2 Corinthians 5:14)?
Philip ~ I think it has simply gone unnoticed. That would be the case for most of 2 Corinthians – it is perhaps the most ignored letter from the apostle Paul. But in regards to the principle of being “compelled by love,” I believe we have simply allowed love to be poorly defined in the modern age as sappy sentimentality and therefore has lost most of its biblical meaning, even in the church.
Phil ~ At first read, this statement: "Missional ministry is not about our abilities. It is about presenting God's presence to the people of our world." (page 101) sounds similar to what we have heard preached and taught for generations but comment on these subtle differences:
- How does a "missional" perspective alter the way we plan and perform ministry?
Philip ~ The people of God have often used the cliché that we should “give our best to God” meaning wear our best, sing our best, and even program our best. The missional mentality recognizes that our “best” will consistently fall short of Spirit-led and empowered mission work. We need to move away from putting our best foot forward as if we having home field advantage in the U.S. is enough. Remember, we live on a mission field where only God’s presence (His best, as it were) is what will transform lives.
- How is "presenting God's presence" different than "presenting God's word" which might have been written a generation ago?
Philip ~ Perhaps there is a shade of difference here but certainly not two facets of God’s work I want to separate. A generation ago, faithful preaching had an effect unseen today because the culture still held closer to a biblical worldview. In essence, people were closer to an understanding of concepts such as sin, salvation, and the gospel. On a mission field (like the U.S.A.), we need to both speak about and live out God’s presence which indwells us.
Phil ~ Give us insight on what you mean by:
- "Reconciling evangelism and disciple making"
Philip ~ A false dichotomy has been established that a church excels in either evangelism or discipleship (meaning deep Bible teaching/learning). We need to see them as two sides of the coin rather than two separate activities of the church. Healthy churches will see evangelistic believers growing deep in their faith and believers growing deep in the faith will be out evangelizing.
- "Accompanying the message of the cross should be love for our neighbor"
Philip ~ Our love for neighbors should be driven by the message of the cross. If we love the gospel, then we will share it with a neighbor. If we love our neighbor, we will share the gospel.
- "Contextualization is important"
Philip ~ When we send missionaries to Romania, we ask them to learn their language, dress as the locals, live in their culture, and eat their food. We ask them to contextualize their lives and ministry for the people to whom they are going. We need to do the same for the urbanites, suburbanites, white-collar, redneck, surfers, or whomever God calls us to live among.
- "Kingdom citizens"
Philip ~ I love being an American. If I have to choose where to live in the world, I will choose our country every time. But, my citizenship here is temporary. Because of the teaching in 2 Corinthians 5, we must keep our perspective on being an ambassador in this world, not a resident. Residents grow comfortable with the world as it is. Kingdom citizens seek to bring the reign of our God to this place.
Phil ~ How does the love of Christ transform the way we:
- Pray for those Christ died to save?
Philip ~ We will weep more for their lost state when we bow in prayer. We will set aside our grocery list of minor needs—or major needs—instead to pray on behalf of a friend’s eternity.
- Care for people and their problems?
Philip ~ Christ’s love in us will help us look beyond the messy nature of ministry. It will allow us to see beyond our self-imposed boundaries (race, economics, culture) to enter someone else’s grief and portray Christ’s character of redemption.
- Share the message of salvation?
Philip ~ Love changes our evangelistic efforts from operating as a gun-slinger for church to a persuasive friend for Christ. Without love, we become self-consumed religious hacks looking for a good story to tell our church friends about how we made another pagan change their mind about God.
Phil ~ Philip, please write a prayer we can pray with you towards our own transformation that God can use to transform lives and families and communities ...
You alone are God. We declare that there is not a rival or an equal to Your greatness and love for us.
We ask that You would lay the power of Your divine love upon our hearts. We want to see our neighborhoods, apartment complexes, businesses, and job sites as you see them. Help us to be conformed to image of Christ in both our inward character and in our outward ministry with the Gospel. God, we beg of You to allow us to see people with the passion of Christ. When we should, help us to weep over our city as Christ wept over Jerusalem. When we are able, aid us to celebrate as You do over the repentance of one lost soul and seek the salvation of all those within our reach.
We pray that the power of the Gospel will transform our lives, the people of our city, and the people of this world.
We pray for the glory of God to rule the whole earth.
In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.