The summer of 1992, Michele and I took 13 middle school students to the Boundary Waters Wilderness Canoe area. We should have known we had bit off more than we could chew when 24 hours prior to departure, a parent insisted their foreign exchange student who spoke excellent English (she didn’t) also go on the trip, or when one of the five boys asked if there were pop machines at the campsites.
However, the biggest problem on our trip was not the naïve students. The biggest problem was our outfitter. When I asked him to quickly demonstrate how to pitch one of the tents before we paddled off into Canada, he rolled his eyes and sighed, “Tents are a no-brainer. Besides, we put tent-pitching instruction sheets at the top of your backpacks.” (He also told us it was about 4 miles to Canadian customs.)
After paddling 8 miles to Canadian customs, we grabbed the first wide spot on the shoreline we could find to pitch camp. Motivated by both approaching darkness and steady rain, we pulled the four no-brainer tents from their packs. Even 20 years later, I get a creepy feeling of doom when I recall what my eyes saw in the waning light of dusk as I unfolded the instruction sheet from my tent pack. I couldn’t make out the crude illustration. I could not read the instructions. It wasn’t the light or the rain, it was the copy. It was a copy of a copy of a copy, clearly made on a very bad copy machine.
The purpose of the church and our calling as Jesus’ followers
I get that same creepy feeling of doom when I compare the ministry of the modern Church and the contemporary follower of Jesus to the instructions Jesus gave to those who would comprise the first Church in Matthew 10:5-23. Just consider Jesus’ instructions: confirm your preaching with My signs of power (vs 7-8), pack light and trust me to provide (9-11), expect some doors to swing open and others to slam on your foot (vs 12-15), and if they had a crown of thorns for me, don’t expect them to meet you at the city limits with a bouquet of roses (vs 16-25).
Have the Kingdom set-up instructions changed, or are they timeless no-brainers? If they are timeless, how can we, standing the in the waning light, exhausted and clueless on how to proceed, get back to a Matthew 10 battle-plan for building Christ’s Kingdom?
What do you think?