I found the mp3s for the conference “Inside the Missional Matrix!” and have been enjoying them. The conference was held on March 23 and 24. The talk that I found the most challenging was Todd Hunter’s talks “The Meaning of Missional” parts one and two. One of the great things about listening to mp3s is that if you want to write down a quote you can relisten to it until you get it written down correctly. So, Todd said, “Missional is a world view and an attitude and an imagination before it is anything else. Human beings don’t live by facts but out of our imaginations – not by proposition but with what we imagine those propositions mean to us.”
In context, he was saying that “Our job is not to live Jesus’ life but to live our lives as if Jesus were living or is living His life through ours.” Todd was comparing what it means to live out the kingdom of God and what it means to live out the death and resurrection of Jesus. He contrasted what Jesus said the gospel was and what Paul said it was.
Jesus in Mark 1:15: “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8: 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
So, for Jesus the gospel had to do with the nearness of the kingdom of God and it was, of course, Jesus who embodied the kingdom. Therefore the time had come for people to repent and believe. For Paul it was Jesus’ sacrifice for humanity. In the end Todd says that what Paul is saying as a definition of the Gospel was a subset of what Jesus was saying. He says that “we have to hear Paul in light of Jesus.”
Todd solves this difficulty by saying that we must live by what Jesus said because it ignites the imagination where as what Paul says does not. I found that shallow and lacking in imagination. That said it is still an issue to be resolved. Todd quotes from “Storm Front” something that I think is helpful in resolving the problem, “The gospel is not simply a message to be proclaimed [i.e. Paul], its the form of our participation in what God is doing in and through the world [i.e. Jesus].” Paul would, however, also agree with living out what God is doing in and through the world. He said, “For me to live is Christ…” and “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:2-4). Paul talks about putting off death (life without God along with its behaviors) and putting on life (the life of Jesus and the behaviors that go with it). Live out the kingdom. Live out the life of Christ who is the embodiment of the kingdom, the head of the church, the presents of God’s kingdom on earth. Our identification with Him is more than just a ‘faith transaction’ since we participate in the kingdom of God through our identification with its king, our savior.
There is more to Todd’s talks…but you should listen to them first hand.
For more info see the wikipedia for missional living.