The 4 Turnings…
In 1991 or so, George Hunter mentioned, during a presentation in East Los Angeles, the 4 turnings –repentances — of the human heart that help create the kinds of people the Kingdom needs.
The four turnings are these:
- A turning to Jesus Christ as Lord
- A turning to some form of Christ following community
- A turning to the Scriptures
- A turning back to the world on mission
These turnings can happen in any order. That these can happen in any order must be emphasized. Many will belong to the community of faith for a season before ever believing in Jesus. Others will be on mission to the world before reading and centering the scripture. Some will believe in Jesus but will hesitate to identify with a Christ following community.
What do these four turnings looks like?
The Turning Back to the World…
Let’s talk about the fourth of these turnings, the turning back to the world on mission. Assuming that the Spirit, and not some denominational board or church committee, is the director of Christ’s mission to reclaim the universe, then we can look around and see the Spirit at work around the world in amazing ways. Humanists that work to help the oppressed victims of the sex trade in southeast Asia, Secularists that struggle to preserve the environment, Christians that smuggled human beings –in days past — out of Nazi occupied territory or that smuggle human beings out of Islamic lands today, Rock stars that seek to alleviate Africa’s debt, and Ivy league blue bloods that seek to develop economic models that will lift the miserably poor out of economic hell.
I have a 12 year old son who loves The Snake Master, Austin Stevens, is a fan of The Jeff Corwin Experience, and who was deeply moved when Steve Irwin died. Lucas catches and releases all kinds of reptiles, but is particularly fixated on snakes at this stage in his life –at least his mother hopes it’s a stage. Niza, my wife, just spent a night in the hospital with Lucas. He was admitted for observation after being bitten –again — by a snake he captured in the wild. Lucas’ interest in snakes has been escalating from the small to the large and the non-venomous to the venomous, and this thick heavy snake had the look and markings of a Cotton Mouth. The Cotton Mouth is a snake local to this region that injects a neuro-toxic venom.
As the swelling of his hand diminished you could clearly see the outline of the snakeâ€™s bottom jaw on the palm of his hand and the puncture marks of the top jaw across the top of his fingers. He did not suffer any of the symptoms of the neuro-toxic poison that accompanies a Cotton Mouth’s bite. [I learned that most bites are “dry” meaning that the toxin is not injected with the bite]. Lucas maintained the entire time that the doctors and paramedics had improperly identified the snake, which I carried with me to the emergency room and then again to the hospital. [Yes, Lucas had the presence of mind to keep a hold of the snake after it bite him and put it in a tub so he could return it to the wild. And yes, after listening to the medical professionals on the one hand and my son on the other there is no doubt that Lucas knew at least as much as they did about snake identification. Nevertheless, we were glad that, even though Lucas did not concur with their findings, the Doctors decided not to take any chances].
It scares his grandparents that Lucas doesn’t share their natural fear of snakes. In fact, Lucas is on mission to make sure snakes thrive on the planet and that their environments are protected. I think he’s on a mission from God. And, in spite of the fact that I want him to be a Doctor, Lucas must be about His Father’s business.
The Scope of our Mission…
The whole of the world is the Spirit’s field. We are stewards of the whole world, and eventually of the stars. Every field of study and common curiousity are fields of mission for human beings. Countless are the ways in which we would encourage people to serve beyond our local churches if we saw the whole menu of human activity as a field of service and mission. We are stewards of the creation and as such we can point to the God of creation by our care for it. We need to think more about how engaging the whole of the world with passion is a way of moving the world of men towards God.
To be the kind of person Jesus needs in the 21st century, we must turn back to the world on mission. This isn’t the only “turning” to be sure, but it is a crucial turn.
What do you think?
See you in the Mystic…
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