Tuesday, October 07, 2008

To the Centre or to the Frontiers?

Many years ago when I attended the School of World Mission (now the School of Inter-Cultural Studies) at Fuller Theological Seminary Dr. Paul Pierson told us that God is always working at the fringes - rarely if ever is he working in the center of power. In fact, as you study the historical development of the world Christian movement you discover that God brings renewal to the church and renewal to a society by working on the fringes of the church and the society. Change rarely, if ever, comes from centers of political, religious or economic power.

Makes you wonder about all the "hoopla" of the current presidential election where both parties claim they will bring change and renew Washington DC. Somehow, I think not.

But, I digress.

This evening I started reading a book that was given to me by a Korean missions leader. The book was written by Paul Choi and is called "Global Spiritual Mapping". Not sure yet if I would recommend it, but he made some powerful statements in one of the early chapters that reminded me of what Dr. Pierson taught us back years ago.

Here are a few quotes:

People want to live in the center of the world's power.

Once people seize power, they struggle to hold onto that power in fear of losing everything that thye obtained with it. They take shortcuts and shamelessly flatter those with greater power, but in the end, their lives come to a ruin.

People are constantly moving toward the center because they see the power there. They say they can change the world by becoming succesful in the center. Yet that is not God's way. You cannot do anything at the center . . .

God does not work at the center of civilization. God works in the margins, the frontiers.

You cannot change the world at the center. If you want to govern the world, go to the center; but if you want to transform it, go to the frontiers.

When we go out to the frontiers, the center is affected.

History beings anew in the frontiers. When one frontier becomes the center of civilization, the cneter of history moves to a different frontier.

History makers do not go to the center. They go to the frontiers to discover new plans for the future. New history begins there.

Food for thought -- don't you think -- especially in the light of the fact that it seems that so much of the American church longs for the halls of power, longs to be part of the center of civilization. Yet Jesus started his ministry not in Jerusalem -- not in the center. He started His ministry in Galilee of the Gentiles -- far from the political, religious and economic center of Palestine.

Perhaps we need to look for God in the fringes where He often resides -- and stay away from the center, where He often appears not to be.

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