Learning Gospel through Mission
This weekend I served with my City Group on the eastside, a low income, non-white part of town. We joined up with a charismatic group called One Love. We stood out like egg whites in a frying pan. Fortunately, we didn’t get fried though things definitely got hot. Before we left, we asked the Spirit to teach us while we served, and man did he ever.
I confess, I was skeptical of the approach at first. Christian hip hop, tent and chairs, face-painting, firetruck, testimonies—old school. But the Spirit warmed things up. People split out of their subsidized housing into urban playground to hear the gospel, to see the gospel.
As I heard Tony’s testimony I was converted again. The power of the gospel, plain and simple, drew my affections to Christ. I couldn’t stand. I sat down and wept three times. I was a mere student, barely a pastor, learning from an 20 year old, street-wise, profoundly redeemed, deeply passionate X-gang member. Tony cried out:
“My dad left when I was 8. My mom was a prostitute. I didn’t have no love. I looked for it on the street. Gang-banging, flaggin colors, slinging, I thought I was somebody, but I wasn’t. The street couldn’t love me. I needed God.”
He went on to describe his trial for aggravated assault of a police officer. While in jail he read the Bible three times. He crumbled under the weight of the gospel. He told God, “If you let me out of prison I will preach your Word. If you don’t I will glorify you here.” Trial day came. Evidence was marshaled. But the long criminal record was gone. Erased from the computer records. The video of aggravated assault was played. Scrambled. They re-burnt the DVD to no avail. All evidence gone. His record was wiped clean…by Jesus. Tony has been set free to preach the life-changing power of the gospel, the all-sufficient love of God in Christ, to be a missionary.
We learned the gospel all over again. Sure, we painted faces, talked with apartment dwellers, played with kids and talked about Jesus. But we were outsiders. Tony and his missional posse contextualized the gospel with boldness and cultural savvy. They threw out words and acronyms I had never heard before. They brought the gospel to the hood…and I worshipped and I learned.
May we never stop learning the gospel.