Thursday, July 19, 2012

discernment in mission

It was great to be part of the Cato lecture last night and hear Kirsteen Kim, Professor of Theology and World Christianity, reflect on mission today. Her talk moved from Edinburgh in 1910 to Edinburgh in 2010, noting changes in cultures, mission theology and spirituality. She was clear, with great visuals and a dry wit. We are very much looking forward to having her with us next week at Uniting College, teaching an intensive on Spirit and mission.

Among many good quotes was the way she opened up discernment in mission.

In every context there are things to embrace and things to resist. K Kim

This for me is well illustrated in Luke 10:1-12, in the delightful tension between “eat what is set before you,” and “shake the dust.”

(Art from Mark Hewitt who “images” the lectionary each week here.)

In Luke 10, mission includes both embrace and resistance. New Testament scholar, George Shillington interprets the act of “shaking of dust” as a practice of giving freedom to the other, being willing to let them choose, rather than insisting on your way, your perspective, your insight. It’s the curse of Christendom, whether through the gun, guilt or gold. But it’s not the way of Jesus. Shillington concludes that “the idea of imposing a Christian culture on a receiving culture is foreign to this [Luke 10:1-12].” (An Introduction to the Study of Luke-Acts, 90)

In this we are not alone, for we have the wisdom of the church in history and today and the gift of discernment from God’s Spirit.

For more:
– Shaking the dust Aussie style go here
Pluralism and Luke 10.

Posted by steve at 10:25 PM


  1. Steve, this week’s bible readings (Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 and 2 Samuel 7:1-14a) to be similarly challenging for us in how we go about ministry. In both passages there is an action proposed that is sensible and motivated by love. In both cases, it seems to be good to the community. In both cases they are disturbed by God and replaced with something better. Are we willing to let go of “our mission” to seek God’s mission?

    Comment by David Ferguson — July 20, 2012 @ 7:42 am

  2. That’s fascinating David. We sat as a team yesterday with Mark 6:30-34, 53-56. We were all sort of glad that we weren’t the only ones stressed, that even Jesus and the disciples got harried. We appreciated the ambiguity of rest/mission in the text. Missionally we were challenged by the healing and what it means for us to live a whole gospel for the whole world.


    Comment by steve — July 20, 2012 @ 10:43 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.