Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me
We closed the final session of GAFCON2013 singing Before the Throne of God Above. After many hours of conversation, debate, teaching, and testimony, these words hit me in a way that they have not before. My friends, it is this amazing truth of substitutionary atonement that is the unchanging hope for those who believe in the Gospel. We follow a Savior who put Himself in our place. And when God forgives me, He does it because He is looking at Jesus. Why would we ever want another Gospel? Why would we decrease the necessity of Jesus’ death in our place? Why would we not exalt Him for what He has done?
As we discussed the future of the Anglican Communion and the choices of so many to believe a false Gospel, this song and these words captured what makes us tick and why the Church Universal is the hope of the world. How precious is the Gospel! How precious is the truth that we have a way out of temptation and forgiveness when we sin and a Leader who sets us free. Thank you God, Father Son and Holy Spirit.
New to Anglicanism?
One of the chief ways that Anglicans define who they are in communion with is by ‘showing up.’ If you are invited to a meeting, it means there is a desire to be in communion with you. If you say no or if you are not invited, it means there is a break in communion. So meetings like GAFCON are significant because ‘showing up’ means something. And we do this at all levels of our interaction– diocesan meetings, provincial meetings like our Anglican Assembly next June, and global meetings like GAFCON.
When Anglicans get together, they usually write a paper. They want to remember what God said and did. They want to capture the conversations, significant teaching, and things that still need to be settled. For GAFCON, that paper is called The Nairobi Communique. It is excellent.
It was written by a team over the week of GAFCON. They received input from our studies in Ephesians and from each of the mini-conferences. All of the delegates were presented a draft and allowed to offer comments and critique. The team took all of that feedback and edited the draft. When it was read this morning, by John Senyoni and his wife [from Uganda Christian University], I was in tears. Sure, I cry a lot. But, I had a strong sense that the communique was a gift from the Holy Spirit– and a probably source of future suffering. It is so helpful to be clear. But clarity invites pushback. I urge you to read it– especially if you worship in an Anglican church. It is a key part of our present history.
Some other quick highlights…
This is Peter Lebhar. He is on InterVarsity staff in Tallahassee, FL. I had a wonderful conversation with him about the possible future transition from IV staff to being the Rector of a parish. He is doing great work on campus, but also exploring how he can take his passion for the Gospel and his desire to see people reconciled to Jesus into an Anglican church plant. I was so encouraged that there are folks like him considering ordained ministry. I loved talking about InterVarsity staples: Inductive Bible Study, New Student Outreach, and Multi-Ethnicity and how those things can translate into a parish. Could their be a nascent pipeline of InterVarsity staff coming into Anglican Parish Ministry? It’s happening in Florida.
On the bus this morning, I sat down next to the Bishop of Paraguay. We talked about all the things that God is doing in that nation. We also talked about how the US has done ‘missions’ poorly in the past and the need for American teams to enter as learners and servants. He directly spoke to the unhelpfulness of ‘paternalistic relationships’. I really appreciated his experience and wisdom. It’s a conversation that I hope to continue. Restoration is seeking to actively develop ministry partnerships in Arlington and abroad with our brothers and sisters from Latin America. Who knows how God will continue to grow the good work that has already begun in places like Casa Chirilagua?
I’ll admit it. I was scared. The three of them were standing by themselves– maybe waiting for somebody. I couldn’t think of anything to say to them beyond ‘hi.’
But what I wanted to say was– ‘I admire your courage and your faithfulness. Thank you for loving Jesus in a REALLY hard place. I have a dear friend who is from your country. I pray for what God is doing there. I wonder how a church like mine could support you.’ It felt a little too gushy. But that’s where my heart was.
So I walked over and introduced myself. I awkwardly said, ‘I don’t really know what to say, but I am so glad you are here.’ They told me about the college they teach in. They told me about their families. They told me about their hopes as theological teachers and I asked if I could pray. It was feeble, but heartfelt.
The Gospel will change the world. It is growing on college campuses, in the mountains of Paraguay, and in a small building that teaches Myanmar pastors how to declare the incredible truth that Someone stood in our place– And it changed everything.
Thank you for praying me through GAFCON. Looking forward to GAFCON 2018.