What kind of living ushers in God’s reign by arousing curiosity among unbelievers, which lead to questions and faith sharing? How can we foster a set of habits that will help shape others’ beliefs and values?
BELLS is an acronym from Michael Frost’s book, Surprise the World! He gives practical steps to help us develop rhythm and accountability as we align ourselves to be more like Jesus while sharing His love and hope to those around us. These steps include: Bless others, Eat together, Listen to the Holy Spirit, Learn Jesus, and Sent.
There are two main reasons Frost places emphasis on learning Jesus. First, there is the devotional value of growing close to Jesus. We sense His presence through His Word and learn to hear the Holy Spirit’s promptings. God also enables us to become more Christ-like when we not only study Jesus’ teachings, but also increasingly submit ourselves to His will. The second, more missional reason to learn Jesus is our need to know Him if we’re going to effectively share Him as the reason for the hope in us.
Frost writes: When we’re living questionable lives, both the devotional and missional purposes for studying the Gospels intersect. I think that if we’re being sent into the world to live intriguing lives, arouse curiosity, and answer people’s inquiries about the hope we have within, we need more than ever to know what Jesus would do or say in any circumstance. And we can’t know that without a deep and ongoing study of the biographies of Jesus written by those who knew him best ─ the Gospels. . . . We need to be students of the whole Scripture, which includes understanding the Gospels in their total biblical context.
Frost also encourages us to go deep with others, in which he terms “Incarnational” Mission. While the term mission (from Latin missio) means “to be sent; to be propelled outward”, the term incarnational refers to another aspect of mission. It describes not simply going out, but also the difficult work of going deep with others. As God took on flesh and made His dwelling among us in Jesus, so we too are called to dwell among those to whom we’re sent. How are we to do this, unless we become devoted students of the life, work, and teaching of Jesus?
Frost suggests learning Christ through the following disciplines:
- Study the four canonical Gospels (without neglecting regular Bible devotional reading and/or Bible study.) You can read the Gospels in sections, or with the use of commentaries and/or devotions. Read, reread, and reread again Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
- Read about Jesus. Your church might have a collection of reading material, including chapters from preferred books, articles, and blogs. My pastor recently recommended The Challenge of Jesus, Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is by N.T. Wright: “A rigorous historian and true academic, Wright will wash the insecure and pretend foundations of a folk fable version of Jesus right out from under you (me),” (Pastor Cliff Purcell).
- Further viewing: Explore a range of films to get a better sense of what the Gospels teach. According to Frost, Godspell and Jesus of Montreal aren’t technically films about Jesus himself, but beautifully capture different aspects of Jesus’ character and action.
Although we’re not all called to be evangelists, every Christian is called to live evangelistic lives and be prepared to give the answer for our hope.
Including our previous challenges, here is one more for us this week: 🙂
- Bless three people, at least one of whom is not a member of your church.
- Eat with three people, at least one of whom is not a member of your church.
- Listen – Spend at least one period of the week listening for the Spirit’s voice.
- Learn – Spend at least one period of the week learning Christ.