When you think of the Bible, do you think of a book? The Bible is now available in a variety of media in many languages. Some people access it on their phones or on special audio devices. Some watch it on video. Others hear and learn scriptures through oral transmission. Still others engage with scriptures in interactive computer programs. This video takes a comedic look at some of our hang-ups about the medium of the Bible.
Today’s sessions focused on calling the Church back to integrity, humility and simplicity. I sat in on this session presented by Chris Wright where he challenges participants to confront the idols of power and pride, popularity and success, and wealth and greed. This video is about 25 minutes long.
This is just a small taste of what particpants have been hearing this week. You can view videos of other sessions on the Cape Town 2010 web site.
Here’s an except from this video:
“Now, when you look at Jesus again for just a moment, we find that he faced all three of these fundamental temptations from the devil. The devil offered him power status from all the nations from a high mountain, Jesus refused it, choosing could worship God alone. He chose the path of humility. And the devil suggested he should manipulate the crowds by a death defying miracle. And Jesus chose the path of integrity in his trust in his Father God. And the devil dangled before him the lucrative prospect of abundant food for himself and the hungry masses, turn stones into bread. You could make a fortune for yourself with such a miracle. But Jesus resisted with the scriptural truth that God could provide bread but human beings need greater food for life than that. Jesus chose the path of simplicity and dependence on the promises of God his father. So you see, Jesus resisted all these temptations to give in to the false Gods that had tempted Israel in the Old Testament.
And there he was, 40 days in the wilderness like Israel, 40 years in the wilderness. Would he resist and be obedient to God and he did, he was. But tragically, it seems, so many Christian leaders, including mission leaders, blatantly fail these tests at precisely the points that Jesus overcame them. They simply can’t resist the temptations of elevated status, manipulated success, of selfish greed. And as Calisto was reminding us this morning, the whole church pays the cost of their failure in the loss of integrity and credibility. And so when we even dare to point a danger of criticism at the sin of the world, we are told bluntly and rightly clean up your own back yard. We are, in short, a scandal, a stumbling block to the mission of God. On that same opening night in our wonderful celebration we saw the great story of the reformation in Europe. Why was that needed? Well, you go back to prereformation, medieval church in Europe and see the same three idols mass can he raiding through the corrupt system at that time. Powerful prince bishops yielding enormous wealth and power. Saints with church income. People making indulgences. And mean while, the ordinary people lived in ignorance of the Bible which wasn’t available in their language and wasn’t being preached from their pulpits, and reformation was the desperate need of the hour. Surely the same desperate need is with us now. And I dare to propose it needs to begin in the worldwide evangelical community.
For there are parts — there are parts of the evangelical church today where the same three idols are being submitted to. There are self-appointed super apostles and mighty elevated leaders, unaccountable to anybody else, popular with thousands of followers, Lording over the flock of Christ, unconcerned for the weak or poor, showing none of the marks of the apostle Paul which he talks about and no resemblance to the crucified Christ. That’s the idolatry of pride and power. And there is a craze for success and for results and obsession with statistics and outcomes, sometimes leading to wild claims and unsubstantiated numbers and untrue reports and blatant manipulation and collusion and falsehood. That’s the idolatry of success. And then the so-called prosperity gospel. We confirm about the power of God’s spirit and the victory over all that crushes and curses human life but as Femi will be telling us very soon, many promoters — they succeed only in enriching themselves in a lifestyle in the idolatry of greed. And meanwhile, the ordinary people of God in so many churches live in ignorance of the Bible with pastors who neither know it themselves and are not willing to preach it or teach it to their people. Reformation is once again the desperate need of our day and it needs to start with us.”
To provide you with some context to all of Chris’s talk and the theme of that day… Chris was not saying that every Evangelical Christian or organization has succumbed to these temptations. What he was calling our attention to was that these problems exist and that they exist more prevalently than they should. He was asking all Evangelicals to examine ourselves and ask the Holy Spirit if we are part of these problems. In the evening participants were called to a time of prayerful confession.
I was impacted by what Chris shared in this presentation. How does it impact you?
We’re three days into our week long volunteer assignments at the Lausanne Congress. It’s been very busy so far. My day usually goes from 7:30am to 9pm, whereas Jeff has been busy typically from 8am-5pm.
We both spend time down this non-descript hallway. Hall 4-B is where all the administrative offices for the Congress were set up. Jeff’s been down here working on computers. I come down here periodically to bring files to the communications team. Yes, I have had to carry my electronic files. The internet connectivity at the Congress has been so bad, it generated a press release. As you can imagine, the lack of connectivity has kept Jeff and the other techs busy.
My other home this week is the Press Room. Reporters from a variety of Christian and secular media outlets as well as our small Lausanne news team are set up in this room. We have a screen to watch congress events, and tables for our computers. This room is also used for a daily press conference with a panel that has been selected to answer questions from reporters on subjects covered during Congress sessions that day.
The final count of participants for Lausanne is 4200 from 198 countres. In any of the meetings with Wycliffe that either of us has attended, we’ve never been in the midst of such a diverse group of people. In addition to the participants, we’re part of the hundreds of volunteers working behind the scenes.
Each day is structured around a central theme:
Wednesday: World Faiths
Participants start each day with a Bible study that reflects on the theme of the day, they listen to various speakers address Church issues related to the theme, and then they have an opportunity to respond.
With a group this big, that may seem hard to coordinate. However, everyone has been put into tables of six to make discussions easier. Specific questions are presented for the table groups to discuss, and they fill out a form at the conclusion of their discussions to summarize their thoughts.
Photos courtesy of Lausanne.
The third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, Cape Town 2010, will begin this coming Sunday. The expectation is that more than 4,000 people from about 200 countries will be present to discuss and respond to some of the world’s major issues and how they are affecting the Church. You can read a good overview on the Congress here.
Several people from Wycliffe have been selected by committees in their countries to attend. With us being located so close to where this event is being held, I’d really been hoping that we could find a way in, too. Just two weeks ago we were presented with two open volunteer positions–a spot on the Congress IT team for Jeff and a spot on the Congress communications team for me. Wycliffe gave us the green light to participate.
Today, I attended the orientation for the communications team. The team has more than 100 people who will serve as photographers, videographers, writers, designers, researchers, and social media and web site contributors. I’m working on the news team which includes press release writers, media/press relations workers and someone to distribute stories from the Congress.
This is only the third time this Congress has convened since 1974, so it’s exciting to be part of it. We begin our week of work with the Congress on Sunday.