Monday, February 26, 2007

Sharing the Gospel In The Everyday – A Narrative Exemplar

Over the next several days I'm going to be posting parts of a Group Project that was assigned as part of an Access Residency Class attended by the below classmates.
The residency was titled: Communicating the Gospel.
The professor is Zack Eswine of Covenant Theological Seminary.
Each student provided part of this Narrative and colaborated via email to produce the final project. We used 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 to be our text to be the foundation for communicating the Gospel, and we tried to incorporate the idea of being an Ambassador for Christ throughout the story. The main Charachter is named Nigel and throughout his day he encounters opportunities of being an Ambassador for Christ. He is involved in imploring people to be "reconciled" to God as "God is making His appeal through us".
I hope you enjoy it.

Grace and Peace,
Chris Allen
Coram Deo!!!

Covenant Theological Seminary
Access Residency - January 2007

<>Group Paper By:
Heidi Stevens,
Matt Eastman, Bill Barrow, Chris Allen, Jed Jedlicka


"From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." II Corinthians 5:16-21

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Nigel closed his Bible as he heard the sound of Katy's footsteps coming down the carpeted stairs. He always held his breath as she descended, and wondered whose idea it was to make the feet of those fuzzy, footed, zip-up pajamas out of slippery plastic. She'd fallen more than once. This time though, she arrived at the bottom step safely, and toddled over to his chair, thumb in mouth, dragging her beloved blankie and the tattered, stuffed lama that accompanied her everywhere. Nigel hoisted her onto his lap, burrowing his nose down into her tangled hair so he could smell the sweetness there.

"Morning', papa," she said, snuggling into the position where she fit so perfectly, between his lap and chin. As she reached up and patted his cheek, he felt the warm, moist, smallness of her fingers against his face, and smiled as butterflies of pleasure danced in his chest. Sitting there quietly with his three-year-old daughter, Nigel listened to the sound of his house waking up. Mary was starting the coffee in the kitchen, and he could hear the muffled sounds of arguing coming from upstairs as Jason and Andrew drew their morning battle lines. Nigel sighed in frustration as the sounds of bickering steadily escalated, knowing that in a moment he'd need to stand up and go referee. Procrastinating, he smiled wryly as he thought about how God painted pictures for him with his children: all that was beautiful and all that was broken about a father's relationship with his children played out each day in Nigel's life. He had to admit that his attitude toward God was more like the grumbling and whining that seemed to be constantly at his sons' lips than like the still, sweet contentment of Katy on his lap. And if he was honest, it was much easier to picture God sighing in frustration over him, than feeling butterflies of love and joy.

He thought about what he'd just been reading in II Corinthians: "We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us." He'd been trying to read slowly, and understand the background of familiar texts like this one rather than just passing over them without much thought. Nigel knew that Paul was painting a picture for the Corinthian church with his word choice... so what did he know about ambassadors? Nigel had to get past the unhelpful pictures he had in his head of fancy clothes and state dinners... Ambassadors were sent out, and they lived as minorities in alien cultures, representing the one who'd sent them. He knew that Paul had to deal with members of the Corinthian church who were challenging his authority, so it made sense that the apostle had chosen to use that word picture: he was an ambassador for Christ and it was God who was ultimately making the appeal to the Corinthian church to stop their conflict and be reconciled to Himself.

Nigel sighed as he heard his sons' arguing escalating. He kissed Katy's head again and swung her off his lap, heading for the stairs and trying to control his own inward grumbling at being jostled out of his comfortable musings. Couldn't there be just one morning of peace from those boys? Why did things like misplaced soccer cleats and broken zippers on book bags always have to be someone's "fault"? Nigel never felt like he knew what to say in the face of the constant conflict, and he prayed desperately that he would have something a bit more sage than "Cut it out!" to impart to Jason and Andrew when he reached the top step. Was this what an ambassador to a hostile nation felt like?

He rounded the corner of the landing and met his eight-year-old son's rage.

"Dad, he's so unfair! He's such a liar! He promised I got to take Super Mario Advance today, because he got it all weekend. He promised! He's so stupid! Daaa..aad, he PROMISED!"

Nigel started counting quietly to himself as he struggled to figure out what his face should communicate. Why did a Gameboy have the power to create such unrest? Had he completely failed to teach his children about more eternal things like brotherly love and dieing to oneself? He stepped to the door of Jason's room, and saw that the boy was packing up his soccer bag, getting ready for school, as if nothing at all were wrong. Taking a deep breath, he addressed the thirteen-year-old.

"Jason, are you breaking a promise to your brother?"

"Yes, but, I need..."

Nigel interrupted him. "Jason, are you breaking a promise to your brother?"

"Yes, but, he said..."

Nigel stopped him again. "Jason, are you..."

He stopped and thought. We implore you on behalf of Christ..." But how do I make this about Christ, not about me?” he thought desperately. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

"Jason, are you remembering who you... who we, belong to? Are you remembering that you have the righteousness of Christ? Are you remembering that He has set you free so that you can love your brother?"

Nigel watched his son's face, hoping that his words didn't sound manipulative. He wanted Jason to melt; he wanted to see his heart really "get it." He longed for a moment of communion with him: Dad and son, fellow sinners saved by grace. He wanted his words to be wise and winsome and not come off like a smug sledgehammer of spiritual guilt...

But things rarely quite looked like Nigel wanted. Jason slumped his shoulders, then huffed and shrugged and threw the game cartridge at Andrew, before going back to packing his duffle bag. Nigel noticed that both cleats seemed to be there, and that for the moment, the tension seemed to have left the air, and he thanked God sincerely for those small mercies. Not knowing what else to say, but glad for the peace, he ruffled Jason's hair and headed downstairs to grab some coffee and a kiss from Mary on his way out the door. "...God making his appeal through us" What did that look like? "God, help me to understand this," Nigel prayed. He thought of the day ahead and what he'd face at the office, and he prayed that he'd miraculously become better at this "ambassador" stuff on the way to work, before he had to face part two of the conversation that had started yesterday in the office.


To be continued...>>>

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