Communicating You (Part Eight)
Despair is the incomplete, unfulfilled existence outside of God in the mind of Søren Kirekegaard. “Sin is: before God, or with the concept of God, in despair not to will to be mmm, or in despair to will to be oneself,” meaning that despair is the opposite, or the negation of a realized Imago Dei. The fallen world is in despair. Unfortunately, many within the family of God flirt with despair as well. And the reality of despair calls for a response from Christ’s church. But what is the specific mission of the Church inside a world of fantasy and Internet socialization? The sin of false image creation and the satisfaction with information exchange must be combated by igniting the desire to be authentically who God created self to be.
Evidenced by his Son’s arrival on earth and the eternally true interaction of the Trinity, God’s antidote for the sickness of sinful brokenness was and is relationship. In the brokenness of false image creation and decaying communication we must reach for relationship as the cure, not a relationship of self-help or groupthink, but of divine connection with God. Christian mission, if it can be simply put, is to preach and heal (Mat 9:35). In fact, this was the mission that Jesus was active in during his time on earth. Jesus spoke the Kingdom as he rebuked the “righteous acts” of the Pharisees. And lived the Kingdom, connecting with humanity and conquering the grave.
As citizens of this Kingdom of God we are to understand our role. Our role is dictated by our identity, which is rooted in Christ, the perfect representation of God. If we habitually find ways to promote personal identity and false image, we are disengaging with the work of the Kingdom and are unable to preach the Gospel and heal the despondent. The Christian mission will be thwarted and mutated into an interaction of supposed, digital beings and not actual persons. Realizing identity found in the image of God is not only personally beneficial, but also corporately necessary if the Church is to be used to bring heaven to earth (Mat 6:10).
This is why Jesus made such a big deal out of the Pharisees’ “acts of righteousness”. Interacting with the fantasy of human design eclipses the reality of God’s divinely fashioned mission. Performing for the crowd limits our effectiveness in our purpose. In the same way playing the game of football is impossible if constant attention is given to cleanliness and fashion of the uniform, the mission of the Church is ignored when personal promotion is the focus. The Pharisees, as well as contemporary believers, follow the temptation to attract peers’ attention and miss their God ordained responsibilities.
There is a frightening misconception that God only saves Christians from hell and not for earth. If the only purpose of the Gospel and saving knowledge of Christ is eternity in heaven, then we would not remain on earth following conversion. There is a mission and our image is intrinsically woven into that responsibility.
Within the image of God we have been given an embedded desire to connect relationally. We crave community and need others. Out greatest tool to make those interpersonal connections is through communication. Thus if our ability to communicate is in jeopardy, then the strongest ally of community is being weakened. The movement of Christian mission toward community must be aware of the threatening decline of communicative connection or the very existence of community will be compromised. Communication is not an exchange of information, but it is the road of connection that links one self to another. The model is found in the story of the Gospel and its Author; the reason is found in our mission. Therefore, authentic self and genuine communication must be salvaged if the Church is to be about the mission of connecting lost people to life giving, eternal relationship that is solely found in the person of Jesus Christ.