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My Easter - Part Two

22 April, 2003 2:49 PM

On Saturday morning Nomes and Chrissy went off to do the Melbourne shopping thing. The usual spots including Bridge Rd, Smith St and Brunswick St. The shopping culture is never one I could get into. It has a place in life I know and picking up some bargain clothes is no sin as such. But I must confess to becoming more sceptical about retailing. In its modern expression I just wonder where God is in it. Which for me is a big statement as I am passionate about discovering God in the everyday.

Like many others I have been reading 'No Logo' by Naomi Klein. It is part of my desire to unpack the social activist dimension of my faith that for too long has been restricted or minimised by my own background and conservative evangelicalism or at least my version of it. This is also the other side of the incarnation pendulum. While we identify with the cultural context, there are values that we hold dear and which mark us out within that context. For example, we do not define ourselves by the material. We are willing to take a stand against global brands that utilise sweatshops through Asia to minimise wages and operating costs and yet pour enormous resources into branding and marketing strategies and so on.

On Saturday night we took Nomes to a football game. In Melbourne we call this Aussie Rules or AFL. I had picked the game intentionally out of the weekend options. It was the ultimate battler team - the Western Bulldogs against the well-resourced, marketed and and successful Essendon. Our general admission seats were upgraded for some reason to reserved seats some 4 rows back behind the goals, right amongst the Bulldog diehards. Now this was a mission awareness exercise in the making. There was a guy behind us who made Chopper Reed look angelic. He had a huge tattoo highlighting his team. Now the other supporters were as earthy as you can get and the tirade of abuse directed against the opposition players was certainly nothing for the faint-hearted. Yet there was a real sense of togetherness and tribalism among them. They had a language, dress-code and cultural mores of their own.

How would you do mission? Extractionist mission paradigms might distribute "Jesus the Battler" tracks and invite the tribe to a Sunday night seeker service featuring former footballers who had converted to Christianity. They would be invited to receive Christ and become part of the Church. Would it work? Would a Jesus movement that both reflects and transforms this subculture take hold? Would they stay?

Incarnational mission would take the risk of becoming. Form a team. Join the tribe. Learn the culture. Adopt all that one can within the ethical restraints of the gospel. Love the focus group unconditionally. Find a person of peace. Share contextually. Mentor that new believer in remaining within the cultural group and explore shapes for 'communion, community and commission' that are from within the culture and yet consistent with the biblical witness. In other words, start the process of movement-making! Would it work? Would a Jesus movement that both reflects and transforms this subculture take hold? Would they stay?

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