What do you think about putting Jesus on a billboard?
Not my idea of helpful evangelism, but . . . The other day we were riding down the highway with my neighbors and their 8-year-old. He noticed a huge billboard and read it aloud to the rest of us in his best reading voice: “Jesus is alive.” Then he added with some profundity: “. . . His soul.”
Cody’s analytical addition is the crux of a Christianity mistaken. I quickly added, “His body too!” My wife elaborated, “Yes, all of Him is alive!” It is a grave distortion to say that Jesus is alive only “in soul.”
What happens if BAM goes with a so-called Christianity, a “gospel” devoid of the bodily living Jesus? What if we advocate for work and material transactions that yield earthly sustenance and yet preach a spirituality that exists apart from that? Let’s get this straight: We are in the world just as Jesus was in the world, body-and-soul. And we are making disciples in the world God made, one world physical and spiritual.
We are not just talking creed and theology here in the world while we tinker about to help Other culture people gain comforts and sustainable wealth. The power in our spiritual marketing is not in clever words. The tinker has power.
Yet – Nor is our power in the introduction of innovative thinking into primitive societies. The business ideas, plans, and transactions are by-products not power. Paul’s point is clear: “We have power in earthen vessels.” Jesus came in an earthen vessel. We too are face-to-face in Other cultures in the same flesh as His, in His Spirit, doing business in body-and-soul.
BAM is far more than a transfer of creative Western capitalism.
BAM is an earthly task that is intrinsically spiritual and intimate,
if we are in Christ.
BAM is a spiritual task that is intrinsically earthly, fleshly, gritty, and human,
if we are in Christ.
PRE-REQUISITE: In basic discussions about crossing cultures, we always say that we must understand ourselves in our own culture if we are to understand an Other culture. The platform for understanding Other culture is us understanding ourselves as culture-bound.
The same is true of the gospel. We want to understand how the good news can touch Others in their (perceptibly very different) Other culture. The starting point is knowing ourselves, body-and-soul, on the turf of our own Home culture. Jesus is alive here . . . and there.