Sunday, January 31, 2016

whole gospel 1

"..if we follow his example in both proclaiming the Word and acting to meet human needs, Jesus Christ living through us will produce the same spiritual results in the hearts of men and women that were produced when he walked the earth.  That's an evangelism that reaches the whole of a person's life.

When Jesus describes his own ministry, he talks about preaching and healing and releasing prisoners (Luke 4:18-21).  His target is the poor, the blind, the prisoners, and the oppressed.  We don't see here a theology that divides a man up into little compartments- body, mind, soul, emotions, spirit- then puts one above the other and deals with that only.  No, the words have physical and spiritual meaning which show Jesus's strategy to rescue whole people, and to enlist their bodies and spirits in his kingdom.  Jesus makes God's love relevant to my every need, to my whole person.

Among the poor, there is often a basic cause-and-effect relationship between spiritual and physical needs.  It is somehow very cruel to share the words of life with a person without sharing also things that person needs to live (James 2: 14, 17). But also, we can get caught in the shallows of welfare or paternalism if we help meet people's needs without sharing with them the understanding that they can have a new quality of life with God that lasts forever.  God wants people to develop into whole human beings."  -John M. Perkins from p.65-66 A Quiet Revolution

Saturday, January 23, 2016

what is it about Dr. John Perkins?

It was such a great honor to be able to walk through the life and ministry of Dr. John Perkins this past week, as I visited Jackson, MS, with my CCDA cohort 6.  As I listened to Dr. Perkins a few days ago, I have been reflecting on what it is that makes him so compelling and such an influential leader.

1.  When Dr. Perkins met Jesus, he believed and has lived the Scriptures that tell us we are one human race and that we become family, real brothers and sisters, when we become adopted sons and daughters of God in Christ.  Perkins has believed and witnessed to the fact that the Gospel has the power to heal and burn through every division.

2.  John Perkins believed Jesus when he said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor...".  And because we are now Christ's physical body on earth, we also will incarnate, just like Jesus did, and preach good news through "show and tell" among the poor.  

3.  John Perkins "doing" flows out of his "being."  Perkins' outliving is clearly from the inliving Christ in him.  He oozes faith and his life story so clearly reflects Jesus's power, hope, love, endurance, courage, character.  You can't get near him without hearing him preach of the King and the Kingdom of God on the move reconciling, redeeming, restoring....and inviting us into the fellowship of this great love.  

4.  Perkins has shown us what beloved community looks like.  It looks like believers coming together across race, socioeconomics, and age to be the Church and to join our gifts together for the greater good...for justice and equality for all people.  He speaks so powerfully about being saved and brought into something larger than ourselves. 

These truths have become visible in the life of John M. Perkins.  He models and embodies these truths.  It was amazing to be around people this week who told their stories of hearing Dr. Perkins share the Gospel around the country and who felt God's call to join with him in Mississippi. With no strategic plan and no finances promised, they dropped what they were doing and went.  H. Spees, who is currently campaigning for mayor in Fresno, put his campaign work on hold this week to come to Jackson in order to help lead our tour on Thursday.  He heard Dr. Perkins at Glendale, CA, Presbyterian Church when he was 19.  He followed Perkins back to MS and was there in the early days when they took over health clinics in the area and knocked down the dividing walls inside that were used to separate whites and blacks.  One of our stops was at Mendenhall Ministries, the former Voice of Calvary Ministries, and we came upon Irv and Joan, a senior couple who had first come to Mississippi in the early days after hearing Dr. Perkins speak.  They were back visiting and serving, and it was a surprise and wonderful reunion for H. Spees, Dr. Perkins, and Irv and Joan.  A great opportunity for cohort 6 to see the love and bonds still so strong between them.  Their lives of commitment to Christ and one another was a "taste and see" moment for us as we watched their joy in seeing one another and sharing stories from the early days of being on mission together through the hardship and insanity of injustice caused by racism.   

Dr. Perkins is a spiritual giant, a mentor and father in the faith to so many people.  His legacy of humble service and sacrifice, the truth he shares about Christ's reconciling love and forgiveness, the prophetic word he has for Christ's Church, and the love he has for his family and friends, draws people both to Jesus and to himself. Dr. Perkins helps us to not only see the vision of God's Kingdom come to earth, but to taste and touch it.  I am one whom God has changed through the life of this man.  Thank you, Dr. Perkins, for your faith, love, and obedience to Jesus.