Anglican Perspectives

The Heart of the GSFA: Recovering a Passion for the Lost

Day two of the GSFA Assembly was focused on mission, as promised by Archbishop Justin Badi in his keynote address. Today began with a powerful opening illustration by Archbishop Samy Shahata from a book, The Minds of Billy Milligan, the only person ever acquitted of murder because of Multiple Personality Disorder. The Global South Assembly begins every day with Bible Studies on Ephesians, and today its focus on chapter one was on our identity in Christ. It’s this identity that has come into crisis through the modern confusion brought on by progressive ideology. Archbishop Sami likened the Anglican Communion today to Billy Milligan and the sickness of Multiple Personality Disorder, characterized by fracture, loss of consciousness, multiple identities, and an ignorance by each identity of the other. The result is a seared conscience and a lack of responsibility. This describes what happened in the Anglican Communion over the last fifty years.

Ephesians chapter one reminds us we have one identity only: it is not our work, feelings, gender, or sexual orientation. As followers of Jesus Christ our identity is in him alone. Yes, we express that identity in different ways and gifts, but from this one identity we receive from Christ spiritual blessings and being called chosen by God. We receive a purpose to be holy and blameless. We receive a deep sense of belonging in a world where we feel lost and isolated. We receive total forgiveness – no longer defined by our past mistakes but defined by Christ’s lavish grace, redemption, and forgiveness. As a result, we are free from condemnation (Romans 8:1). This is the gift at the heart of the Good News.

It is the gift that Christ bought for us with his blood and which he revealed to the world by his Resurrection. This is the heart of the mission to which the Global South was called in being a light to the nations (Isaiah 49:6). Unfortunately, theological divisions and false teaching within the Anglican Communion distracted us from the mission. Today’s focus was letting the main thing be the main thing: caring about the lost for the sake of Jesus Christ. Archbishop Tito Zavala of Chile reminded us that the anti-missionary paradigm is the story of Jonah, who resisted God’s call to evangelize Ninevah. Jonah hated Ninevah, not wanting anybody to repent and receive God’s forgiveness. He knew God was merciful. In fact, Jonah ran from this call and tried to find a place of comfort instead. Ultimately, he found himself in the belly of a whale. To make matters worse, when he was finally vomited up on the beach to fulfill his call and preached judgment and repentance, they actually repented! Jonah was so angry that he sat under a tree to pout. In the end, God had to remind Jonah of his tender care for the lost, and in perhaps one of the most poignant verses in the Bible, God said, “Should I not have concern for the great city of Ninevah, in which there are more than 120,000 people who cannot tell their right-hand from their left  (i.e. young children) and also many animals?” (Jonah 4:11).

Today we were challenged by the following questions: was the mission made for the Church or was the Church created for mission? Are we making disciples of the Church or are we making disciples of Jesus Christ? Today’s answer was clear. We are called to make disciples of Jesus Christ and fulfill the Great Commission for him alone.

In one way or another, all of our speakers today reminded us to ask ourselves, are we ready to really care for lost people? Are we ready to sacrifice the time to love the lost, listen to their hearts, and love them with the same grace and truth (John 1:14) that Jesus gave us? Where are the Ninevahs and the lost people around us? Do we care for them? Are we willing to turn our focus to reaching the lost? That is the heart of the mission of the reset Anglican Communion that the GSFA is launching and that will carry us forward in the coming days.

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