“But we have the mind of Christ.” – Apostle Paul
“Being steeped in the mind of Christ is all important.” – Joan Chittister
Adventure with a purpose. We use that phrase a lot where I work at Extreme Missionary Adventures and I think that it is important to our mission, our vision and our passion that we understand what we mean with this phrase.
Lots of people are into adventure these days. Heli-skiing, base-jumping, scuba diving, exploring new places and new peoples, the list goes on and on. For those not quite as active you have adventures in shopping, eating, drinking, etc. (think Anthony Bourdain). Many chose to live out their adventures vicariously. Take reality TV for example. A large percentage of Americans prefer to watch others live (a usually twisted version) of life rather than get up off the couch and live themselves.
Each year more and more people are getting into adventures with purpose. In their pursuit of meaning for their existence these individuals pour their time and talents into feeding the hungry, education initiatives, helping refugees, saving the whales, rescuing endangered snow leopards, reforesting lands in developing nations, cleaning up polluted waters and many other purposes. A few years ago adventurer Richard Bangs wrote a fairly popular book, Adventures With Purpose, detailing some of his exploits into this type of adventure. These are all worthy causes which we as co-creators and co-inhabitants of our planet should be concerned about and involved in. But they should not be THE purpose of our adventures, our lives.
And that’s why our tagline is not adventure with purpose but adventure with A purpose. That “a” points to a grand, specific, all-encompassing purpose to our adventures and that purpose is all important to our mission and our very lives. As our tagline goes on to say the purpose of our adventures is to know Him and make Him known. Him being the triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We take this life purpose from Scripture:
“God . . . wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Tim 2:4
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,” Colossians 1:9-10
As I was crafting this tagline 12 years ago I felt that the sequence of knowing Him and making Him known was very important. We cannot effectively teach or demonstrate what we do not personally know. To make Him known to the world we must first know Him. Scripture reinforces this concept. As Paul goes on to say in Colossians 1 this knowledge he is asking God to fill believers with is, “so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work,”.
And how do we come to know God? It’s not hard and God is on our side in this. As we saw in 1 Timothy 2:4 God wants all people to know Him. But it does take some effort on our part and some time.
We come to know God and develop a relationship with Him by spending time with Him in prayer and in His Word:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5
“But we have the mind of Christ” and “We speak a message of wisdom” – see I Corinthians 2:6-16 for context.
We must invest time alone with God if we are to truly know Him. We must not let the busyness of our lives, even the busyness of our ministries, keep us from devoting significant blocks of time to being alone with God. To sitting quietly while listening for His still voice. God longs to speak to us, to reveal His will for us and for our ministries. But we must take the time to hear what He is saying.
I think this is one area where the early Christians had an advantage over us. Their lives were no doubt physically harder than ours but they also lived at a much slower pace with much less distraction. They had time as they tended to the necessities of life to walk with the Lord and to talk with the Lord. Many of them invested significant time in contemplative/meditative prayer. Not Bible study to see what they could get out of the Bible but rather letting God, through His Word, get into them This closeness to Him, this knowledge of Him is what gave them the courage and strength to make Him known in an often times very hostile world. Courage and strength such as that displayed by the Celtic Christians who would launch out in a boat with no sails allowing the wind of the Spirit to blow them wherever He desired for them spread His Word.
Speaking of these Celtic Christians in his book Exploring Celtic Spirituality Ray Simpson says,
“They did not get their adventure from intellectual exploration, but from obedience. In this, they mirrored those personalities portrayed in the pages of Genesis who set out into the unknown in obedience to God. These Biblical travelers did not try to ensure a good result, as we are prone to do, before they set out. They achieved results not by going to people who were likely to react in a way that would bring the desired results, but through prayer.”
Simpson goes on to say,
“The Irish monks . . . defined the true search for God as starting from apavia(roadlessness), a state of complete trust in the direction of God rather than that of a human decision.”
In Sanctuary of the Soul Richard Foster discusses some biblical references to meditative prayer,
“Two Hebrew words deeply inform and enrich our understanding of meditative prayer: hagaandsiach. Our English Bibles most often translate both of these words with the simple word “meditate.” Actually these two Hebrew words convey a host of nuances: to mutter, to moan, to whisper, to reflect, to rehearse, to muse and even to coo like a dove(Is 59:11). Often the emphasis of these words is on silent reflection upon God’s works in nature (Ps 143:5; 145:5) or God’s Word (Ps 119:15, 23, 27, 48, 78, 148).
“‘This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth: you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it’ Joshua 1:8. This passage from Joshua underscores a central element of the biblical view of meditation: obedience.”
We too can know this courage and strength to make Him known. We too can experience this apavia, this trust in God’s direction. We too can feel the wind of the Spirit guiding our lives and our ministries if we, like our early Christian brothers and sisters, will invest the time to know God.
I encourage you to make time to be alone with God and His Word today and every day. I encourage you to rediscover the power of contemplative/meditative prayer. A great place to begin your pilgrimage into contemplative prayer would be Foster’s book Sanctuary of the Soul.
[CC Image • Andre Charland on Flickr]