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misinterpretation of Jesus' ministry 
7th-Nov-2005 11:56 pm
I am currently reading Mark's Gospel to study about Thanksgiving. While I was studying Mark 5:1-20, I learned that Jesus healed the demon-possessed man to restore thanksgiving in a suffering family. I looked into UBF message to see how they interpret this passage. It seems that the passage, and all most every passage in the Bible, is interpreted in terms of expanding business. ubf messages do not give any regard to the basic teachings of the Bible. The following is how Sam lee misinterprets Jesus' ministry in this message.

Here we learn that Jesus healed him in order to give him a mission.
Romans 1:5 says, "Through him and for his name's sake, we received
grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to
the obedience that comes from faith." Those who have received the
grace of Jesus must be men of a holy mission. Thank God that Jesus
healed a demon-possessed man. We see here the affection of Jesus
Christ. We see here the compassion of God in Jesus. We see here
how we have to see those who are in trouble. The name of Jesus be praised!
8th-Nov-2005 06:34 am (UTC)
Here we learn that Jesus healed him in order to give him a mission.

Sam Lee claims that the reason Jesus healed the man is to use him for his ministry. This kind of interpretation is not sound because according to this interpretation, Jesus heals a person with pragmatic motives. Then Jesus' ministry is mainly based on practical utility. Why could this kind of interpretation cause a problem? It is because then Jesus would not heal anyone if he doesn't have any mission to give the person. Or he would not heal anyone if a person might not have any practical utility. It is not right to see Jesus' ministry that way. It seems to me that his ministry is solely based on grace and never on utility. Jesus saves us and gives mission. But it is false to interpret it that he saves us in order to give mission. Salvation is based on grace. That is why we give thanks to him. That is why mission is also grace. If he saved us only to use us for mission, well we still give thanks to him even in this case, there is no grace and Jesus' death and resurrection is in vain.
8th-Nov-2005 07:20 am (UTC)
Well, I would have to put it like this:

indeed, in God's kingdom, nobody is "useless".
However, it is a different issue than UBF would make it seem. UBF seems to say that God uses His grace to give us a mission for God's business. However, that is self-contradictory in itself, because "grace", according to it's very own definition, does not calculate or expect returns. Grace is "unmerited favour", but if you demand something in exchange for grace, it's a form of merit that you have to pay back afterwards.
As such, Sam Lee makes it look like there is no grace in Jesus.
That is very serious.

I have to expound once again what I said when I wrote my etstimony upon UBF exit:
"Mission is not for God. Mission is for us. God doesn't need anyone to work for Him. He is almighty. He speaks, and His will be done." However, if God desires to give us a mission, it is not because He wants another worker, but in order for us to get to know Him more intimately. Paul the Apostle, for instance, never lost this perspective until the end of his life. In UBF, once you know God, you should start labouring on your mission.
The reality is that by mission, you start getting to know God.

And as for utility calculation: God created man in His image after His likeness according to His Good Pleasure. We are His "masterpiece". The Bible calls the church "the Bride". I woder what kind of cruel person would see their wife, whom they delight in, whose presence they enjoy - from a utility perspective?
It's like someone who marries because of needing someone to wash the dishes and doing the laundry. Where is the love in that?
It's not like I, as a married person, would tell my wife to stop washing dishes because I love her, but if my intention in marriage was to see how much "utility" I can squeeze out of my wife, I would never have married.
The same with the Lord: if He was intent on seeing how "useful" we would be for Him, we would be a lost case, because compared to an omipotent being, we are just plain useless. We don't deserve to be in the presence of Him at all. We can never work hard enough to justify our existence. But then why did Jesus call us?
Only because of love, and He really is the Gracious Saviour. He doesn't calculate, He's not out to cut a profit. He just plain cares for us.
8th-Nov-2005 08:23 am (UTC) - More on mission
I was just thinking,
in UBF, "mission" always means "campus mission", i.e. going to the college campus and trying to hook frehsmen.

However, when you start "mission" as your personal quest to get to know God by seeing the sheer infinite diversity He has created as human beings, all displaying His image - you can and mus not limit yourself to campus students only.

You may get to know the "campus aspect" of God, but how will you experience His outreaching care towards the sick, the homeless, those in a prison, the underprivileged, those who never went to a college?

The entire Bible is full of proof that God isn't manifest only on campuses: Jesus talked to fishermen, He was a carpenter, He went to the merchants, tax-collectors, harlots, the outcasts, but He also talked to publicans, soldiers, scribes and the religious people. He didn't talk only to freshmen, freshmen and freshmen.
Jesus was MUCH more diverse in His outreach to humanity than anyone in UBF doing "campus mission".
What do we learn from all the stories of the New Testament? That there is something about the presence of God in every encounter of a Christian, regardless of where form, and the diversity of encounters shows the boundless riches of who God really is.
You don't have to talk to the intellectual type, you don't need to even convert them. But you need to meet them, with Christ in your heart, and because YOU are a Christian, YOU should behave a bit like Christ towards them: welcome them with open arms, without expectations, extend to them the grace of God which gives without calculating or demanding.
UBF always tells you to do a business, "invest" your time with college students to gain them for the UBF "ministry" (cough), but like this you totally miss the point of mission - getting to know who God is through seeing all the other people He also has created, He also loves, He also cares for.

In UBF, not only do you get a limited and distorted view of mission, much worse, you will never comprehend how unlimited God is. UBF's mission is keeping you away from God instead of bringing you closer to Him, because it is so narrow!
8th-Nov-2005 02:05 pm (UTC)
The misinterpretation of Ro 1:5 becomes an important UBF false teaching. By equating grace and apostleship, they gradually erode the meaning of grace which is at the heart of the gospel. Grace gets buried by a works requirement after living under the constant performance-oriented theology of UBF (evidenced by their constant numbers obsession). In contrast to UBF's misinterpretation of Ro 1:5, see Romans 12:6-8.
8th-Nov-2005 04:13 pm (UTC)
This is exactly what I had in mind. I think Romans 12:6-8 is the perfect rendering of what mission is about.

6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his[a]faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

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