I first read and signed onto The Lausanne Covenant in the early 1990's. The 1974 statement of faith and purpose had been composed largely by the British theologian John Stott and it had became a standard for mission-minded evangelicals worldwide. Affirming it was a condition of joining the ministry I served with for so many years. We all agreed to the Lausanne Covenant, and we agreed we'd be willing to work with anyone else who said the same.
The Lausanne Movement chose the occasion of its largest meeting yet to commission a new document that, much like the previous one, attempts "to bring a fresh challenge to the global Church to bear witness to Jesus Christ and all his teaching - in every nation, in every sphere of society, and in the realm of ideas."
The Capetown Commitment seems to go further down the road from statement of faith or systematic theology to a call to a common mission. It frames the entire conversation in the bonds of love. The commitment, it's a commitment to love.
How uncomfortable. How challenging. How right.
Are we willing to hear and see what it looks like to really love God, and to love our neighbors as ourselves?
I'm not sure I know how to love. I find a war within myself, a longing to love and be loved at odds with a deep-rooted suspicion that it's better not to. I'm made to connect with others; I've been trained to keep others at arm's length. Which one will win out?
Remember the story of the good Samaritan? My friend Laura recently wrote about attending a gathering of diverse women that took place in the land where Jesus first told that story. "In Jesus' teaching the answer to the question 'who is my neighbor,'" she says, "was essentially another question: 'Whose neighbor are you?'"
Another friend suggests that the original hearers of that story would have considered as neighbors anyone who lived within a day or two's journey of them. Were we to apply the same standard today, the whole earth would be one neighborhood. Do you believe that it is? Why or why not?
Globalized communication mean we may hear, instantly and incessantly, about situations and struggles in far more and further-flung places than we can touch through anything except perhaps our prayers. Human nature pressures us to stop our ears, to close our eyes, to disengage. How do you choose to respond? I mean, how do you choose when to respond, and when not to?
Whose neighbor are you?
We Love Because God First Loved UsThis post is part of the Christian Writer's Blog Chain, which chose for its February theme, "love."
"The mission of God flows from the love of God. The mission of God's people flows from our love for God and for all that God loves. World evangelization is the outflow of God's love to us and through us. We affirm the primacy of God's grace and we then respond to that grace by faith, demonstrated through the obedience of love. We love because God first loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
Source: The Cape Town Commitment