Jesus is the model for all Orthodox missions. He left the culture of heaven and entered into our world as one of us – completely human and God the Son. He learned our ways, ate our food, spoke our language. When He taught, He used illustrations that were taken from the way we actually lived. He constantly found ways to connect the Good News with the realities He engaged. His mission was to overcome every barrier blocking our relationship with God the Trinity and our relationships with each other. Neither cluelessness, nor unbelief, nor hardness of heart, nor murderous anger, nor human injustice nor even death itself could frustrate His work. Jesus’ faithfulness, His work and His Gospel were all vindicated when He walked out of His tomb alive. And while the world of humanity has continued for the most part in rebellion against the Creator, increasing numbers of men and women and children have heard of what Jesus did and who He is and of what He continues to do in our midst. These people are tasting and seeing that the Lord is good, their lives have been touched by the love of the holy Trinity, their own priorities and way of life are being transformed. And in contradiction to the surrounding world, their societies become a counter-culture, the place where heaven intersects earth, where life is transformed by life, where the love and power of Jesus and His Gospel touches hearts and changes them forever. The movement started small, but has in time become a fulcrum that is moving the world.
At one point, I used to quote fair bit from Onesimus’ blog. However, over the last few years, he has blogged less about mission and more about other things going on in his life; his conversion to orthodoxy, some very personal struggles and running. I still read everything he posts and find it interesting, helpful and sometimes poignant. But I don’t post much of it here, because it doesn’t overlap with the rather restricted scope of what Kouyanet does. The most recent post on Orthodox Missions does scratch where I itch.
Three things struck me about this post.
- Much of what Onesimus has written could equally be applied to Protestant and Roman Catholic missions. Don’t think you have nothing to learn from this piece because it is just about Orthodoxy.
- I am not entirely convinced by the appropriation of Patrick and the Celtic missions by the Orthodox church. They certainly weren’t Roman, but I’m not convinced they were Orthodox, either. My own view would be that they represented a distinct stream of Christianity which slowly withered after the Synod of Whitby.
- I was surprised to that there was no mention of the liturgy in the post. Just about everything I have read about Orthodox missions highlights the importance of the liturgy as an ongoing witness to the work of Christ. I’d like to know more about this one.
And in closing, one last quote:
Even when enduring spasms of persecution, Christian churches continued to grow, mainly because the contrast between the Christians’ way of life and their love for each other and the ways of the surrounding culture could not be denied. Historians tend to gloss over the Christianization of Roman society over the first four centuries as if it were somehow explained by social or political factors. But the real story is not some banner headline, but hundreds of tiny stories of how Christians lived as Christians amongst their neighbors, and how increasingly those neighbors found this compelling. This is how all true growth of any church occurs.