Nothin’ ‘Bout The Blood

So last week I’m on a Messenger Zoom call discussing Triune worldviews when a chilling question is raised:

Are we, as rising, maturing believers valuing the bloodand living in light of that ‘precious flow [making us] white as snow’?

Certainly, it’s easy to think we are given Christ’s death and resurrection is the cornerstone of Christianity.

But what if I told you to the extent we detach God’s communal nature as a foundation of love from our corporate theological foundation, to that extent we reduce the blood as nothing more than a sacrament. Would you agree?

If not, permit me to connect some dots after laying some groundwork…

1. To construct a worldview from the core of God’s nature, we must accept the fact God is a Communion of Three Persons in perfect love.

2. From there, we can establish and grow Biblical community in the same way God does His work: by multiplying what He is as a communion of love.

3. Only then can we value the Gospel and consequentially, understand the destructiveness of sin.

Unfortunately, as we progress in this post-Millennial age, the more young believers are distancing themselves from the saviorhood of Jesus2. As a former student pastor, I can attest to this. For many youth, believing the universal lordship of Jesus having once saved is far less challenging than accepting their current need for a sovereign Redeemer who continues to save.

Granted, our culture’s emphasis of reason over revelation and self-autonomy allots sense to the trend. That said, one must wonder how a world system based on deficiency is affecting the church’s thirst for relevancy.

Take ‘mission’ for example. For most, mission is seen as a journey, an assignment or a means to an end; however, when we note the Godhead, we find ‘mission’ to be an overflow of an established nature.

You see, before love could be extended, there had to be an identity with the ability to love; hence, why so many feel the weight of performance given they’re trying to abide in love not knowing who they really are and as such, forget the key to anything starts and ends with being loved by God.

The question is…

Are we abiding in love…or are we searching in love to find ourselves? Are we trusting God to fill our needs or filling our needs to trust in God? Are we forgiving having received grace or seeking grace in order to forgive?

Either way, it’s worth reminding ourselves…

  1. There’s no depravity God can’t redeem.
  2. Abiding in who we are in Christ is the blueprint to Holy Spirit dependence.
  3. The bedrock of truth, especially as revealed in revelation, is cemented when we allow God to reveal Himself in all circumstances.

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As for the blood’s depreciation among ‘next gen’ believers, it’s important we, as the body, perceive the issue as a conflict between identity and performance. For as long as Western individualism exists, so will the temptation to approach mission as drive, fellowship as metric, sin as shame…and thus, the blood as obsolete.

Yet, when we remember we were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20), when we accept Christ’s atonement as the security of our freedom, only then will we understand the blood’s purpose in all things.

For instance…

The blood is central to our community:

Take care and be on guard for yourselves and for the whole flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd (tend, feed, guide) the church of God which He bought with His own blood.” ~ Acts 20:28 (AMP)

The blood is central to reconciliation:

…and through [the intervention of] the Son to reconcile all things to Himself, making peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, [I say,] whether things on earth or things in heaven.” ~ Colossians 1:20 (AMP)

The blood is central to redemption:

In Him we have redemption [that is, our deliverance and salvation] through His blood, [which paid the penalty for our sin and resulted in] the forgiveness and complete pardon of our sin, in accordance with the riches of His grace.” ~ Ephesians 1:7 (AMP)

The blood is central to cleansing:

But when Christ appeared as a High Priest of the good things to come…He went once for all into the Holy Place [the Holy of Holies of heaven, into the presence of God], not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, having obtained and secured eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer is sufficient for the cleansing of the body, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal [Holy] Spirit willingly offered Himself unblemished  to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works and lifeless observances to serve the ever living God?”~ Hebrews 9:11-14 (AMP)

Let us approach [God] with a true and sincere heart in unqualified assurance of faith, having had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” ~ Hebrews 10:22 (AMP)

Get the picture?

My final thoughts are:

1. To minimize the blood is to minimize our freedom in Christ as it stresses our fear of deficiency over God’s sufficiency (2 Corinthians 12:9).

2. Instead of wanting to be relevant, why make the Good Newsprevalent? After all, the presence of goodwillis a testament to the Good News of the Gospel – the fact Jesus continues to heal the oppressed and set captives free having reconciled us to God through…(wait for it)… His shed blood.

3. Accordingly, by downplaying Christ’s sacrifice, we risk performance systems bridging the gap not only between identity and sin, but also church and mission (more on this in a future post).

I don’t know about you, but give me Jesus and the power of the cross as the divide between those medians.

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Looking ahead, stay tuned for a sequel post where I’ll dive into more detail on how we can better educate young people on how to live in God’s present ministry of reconciliation5.

‘Til then, peace be the journey

~ Cameron

Selah.

Footnotes

  1. Of Jesus
  2. This coming an observation from multiple pastoral colleagues across the country
  3. Which can’t be separated from Christ’s ultimate sacrifice
  4. And our call to extend it
  5. An active reality, not a past occurrence
Cover photo creds: Mudpreacher.org

3 Keys to Communicating Vision

When it comes to quality leadership, no question, one of the hardest challenges is communicating vision (i.e. important information necessary for growth and progress). From filtering content to personal interaction, the marriage of progress to relationship can be a messy process. Thankfully, where there’s a will, there’s a way, even if it doesn’t happen the way we want or when we want.

That said…here are three keys to communicating vision effectively…

  1. Say What You Need to Say

When casting vision, it’s important to remember conciseness is more valuable than eloquence. After all, a platform should never be about exposing what you know (i.e. show off), but rather what your audience needs to know (i.e. show how)…which brings me to my first point:

When communicating what an audience needs to know, start with what you need to say first.

More specifically, don’t just filter your content; break it down into lucid, bite-sized bits. That way, you can better discern what is necessary and what is footnote material before you communicate.

For instance, as a wordsmith in youth ministry, I’ve learned my best points, whether delivering a sermon or leading a team meeting, are best received when they lack syntactic ambiguity. In other words, when I use words and phrases that don’t mean different things to different people, not only do I enable my content to be coherent, but I empower my students to interpret it the way it was intended.

Bottom line: Vision doesn’t just point people in the right direction (i.e. makes it plain; see Romans 1:19), it shows them how to get there (bonus points if you include illustrations). Therefore, if you want your audience to capture the vision, make sure you say what you need to say and what your audience needs to hear, not what you want to say or what they think they want to hear.

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  1. Speak the Truth in Love

Yeah, yeah…you get this in theory, but if you’re like me in the sense this doesn’t come as easy in execution, remember you may be in a time crunch, you may have a lot on your plate; however, if you’re not communicating truth in love along the way, not only do you risk a discouraged team, but a disjointed vision split from purpose.

To piggy-back off point #1: what you need to say can’t be what you need to say if love isn’t a part of it. Sure, you may be brimming with epiphanies and award-winning ideas, but if vision isn’t vision without truth and truth isn’t truth without love, then vision can’t be vision detached from best intention.

Remember vision not only seeks the best possible corporate outcome, but inspires love among its enforcers.  Thus, if you aim to love, not only will team morale enhance, but  the bond between vision and audience will tighten as well.

Bottom line: 1) Without love, vision is nothing more than a good idea. 2) Vision, in the context of love, motivates people to keep pursuing it. 3) If you know the truth, speak it in love; if you don’t, love as you pursue it. Either way, it’s a win-win.

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  1. Make it Memorable

While vision, at its core, is the mergence of point #1 and #2, if it lacks conviction or captivation, chances are it’s not memorable either. Granted, truth should never be a function of marketability; however, while good vision knows its audience, great vision considers what they’ll remember.

Hence, it’s worth asking: how do you take an entire vision and frame it into something that’s easy to remember and hard to forget?

For starters, it’s always best to keep it simple and straightforward. Focus on syntax and word selection. Use correct grammar.  Be exact in meaning. Then, if necessary, add some flair and poetic license (i.e. turn it into a jingle, structure it ABC style, pose it with rhyme scheme, integrate a relatable metaphor/simile, etc.) Whatever method you apply, remember the goal is to make sure your audience can extend the vision. While making vision plain may seem contrary to making it memorable, if you consider ‘plain’ as the foundation, it will ultimately enable you to build your vision in a way people can understand and promote.

Bottom line: When vision becomes memorable, the impacts become inevitable.

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Photo creds: Trendy Bloggers, Giphy