HOLISTIC. missional. christian. community.

by Mary Ann Holtz on September 17th, 2013

Missio Dei is a “Holistic, Missional, Christian,  Community.”  

September 8, 2013, at worship we began a four week conversation dealing with what we hope will be the DNA of Missio Dei.  There are four interwoven strands:  Holistic, Missional, Christian, Community.

The first of the four strands is Holistic.  We read and listened to the two creation accounts in Genesis (Genesis 1:26-31 and Genesis 2: 7-9).  Several themes that Joe invited us to explore:

Here's a play by play in case you missed it:

Genesis—God creates the world.  Then God makes humanity out of the world.  Humanity is not created out of nothing, but out of the good earth.  Then God breathes his Ruach (Hebrew word meaning breath, wind, or spirit) into humanity.   (We might be reminded of Jesus breathing on the gathered disciples after the Resurrection, in John 20, and saying “Receive the Holy Spirit”.)

The narrative uses a repetitive rhythm of creation, observance, reflection and pronouncement.  God creates, God looks and reflects on the creation and only then pronounces—it is good.  One might even say this is a conversational approach to creation.

Yet, once everything had been created, and observed together as a whole, God pronounces it very good.  So while each of the parts are good, the whole is even better than each part.  

Joe then outlined the Greek vs. Hebraic Understanding of Persons.

Greek: Dualism (splitting into two) emerging out of a philosophy which held that matter is evil and spirit is good.  Belief in an eternal soul that is separate from the body, that the good soul is essentially trapped by evil matter until death releases it.

Hebraic: Psycho-Somatic Unity, soul-body wholeness.  Nothing is eternal except God.  Indeed, death marked the end of existence.  The relatively new belief in resurrection held by some Jewish people at the time of Jesus was one of the sources of conflict between the Sadducees and the Pharisees.

At Missio Dei, we are holistic in that we recognize that persons are both material and spiritual beings and therefore we attempt to integrate faith with all of life and not merely into a spiritual or other-worldly sphere.

One way this plays out: We are the church, we don’t go to church.  You can only be in church once a week in the latter formulation but the former understands that we are the church every moment.  That is, there is no separation between our spiritual life and our "normal" life.  Think integration.  Think whole.  

Here’s another way to think about this.  When you think of how you might define the word belief, what do you think of?  The Greek worldview would lend itself to understanding belief as a “philosophical commitment”, a verbal statement of some dogmas, doctrines.  However, the Jewish worldview would lend itself to a definition closer to: “whatever it is that you do, that is what you believe”.  

Which one of those would be a holistic understanding and why?

Romans 8:18-25 The Scope of Salvation is the Whole Creation…

Rev 21:1-5 “....new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.......I am making all things new.” 

We are holistic because we attempt to engage the whole person and seek to practice the way of Jesus for the benefit of all of creation, not simply ourselves.

Luke 13:18-19 The Mustard Seed 

Heaven is like a seed you plant, the tiniest of seeds, expecting to get a bush, even one that spreads like a weed—taking over the whole garden—but what you get is a tree, larger than anything else in the garden, bigger and better than you would have ever expected.   So not only does it take over the garden, but it grows so much larger than you ever expected.  

Luke 13: 20 The Yeast and the dough. 

The kingdom of heaven is like yeast.  It makes it way through every bit of dough or else it is not yeast at all.

Quote from Jon Irvine, one of co-founders of Missio Dei: We are holistic “in that we believe the gospel encompasses all of life, not just our belief system. By that I mean calling yourself a follower of Christ will extend far beyond a time that one finally accepted Grace. It will redeem relationships, personal finance, the environment, the arts, politics (or lack thereof), personal health, and anything else on this earth given by God. It's about time that the Church is known for more than upholding mere morality and instead be seen as an answer to redeeming all of what encompasses life.”

And from John Wesley: “I resolved to dedicate all my life to God, all my thoughts and words, and actions; being thoroughly convinced there was no medium; but that every part of my life (not some only) must either be a sacrifice to God or myself, that is in effect to the devil.  These convinced me more than ever of the absolute impossibility of being half a Christian; and I determined through his grace…to be all devoted to God, to give him all my soul, my body and my substance.”


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