I don’t care for most devotional or Christian growth books. But I do really enjoy the book/study guide “The Mind of Christ” by T. W. Hunt and Claude V. King. Part of my appreciation of it is that it is structured analytically… and I enjoy the analytical. A very useful section (in my mind) is near the end where it has a chapter on Christlike virtues.
It explains these virtues through synonyms, antonyms (opposites), and perversions. In other words, it takes a virtue and explains it through other words that share commonality or similarity of meaning. The virtue is also explained by its opposites. Then the virtue is explained by its perversion or behavior that may appear similar to the virtue, and yet is fake and sickly. The last one is the most important, because it is the most subtle, yet important, to distinguish from the real thing.
Take the example from “The Mind of Christ” for the Christlike virtue of “peace”
-Synonyms: rest, quietness, tranquility, harmony, concord, repose, serenity
-Opposites: war, rage, havoc, discord, conflict, strife, rivalry, clash, feud, brawl, fracas, hassle, melee, rift.
-Perversions: neutrality, lukewarmness, indifference, detached, uncommitted, uninvolved.
The opposite of peace lacks its outward symptoms. The perversions of peace may have its outward symptoms, but lacks the appropriate motivation to be forms of peace. The core is sickly. Peace, the real thing, has the outward behavior driven by the true virtuous motive.
Consider three springs (of water). I am part of an organization named “Bukal Life Care & Counseling Center.” The word “bukal” is Tagalog for a spring of water. It was chosen to express the concept of giving life and refreshment. But there are more than one type of spring. Here are three springs:
Good Spring: Gives good water
Dry Spring: Gives nothing
Poisoned Spring: Gives water but is undrinkable (even if it looks good)
The good spring is the virtue—good action and good motivation/purpose
The dry spring is the opposite—bad action (regardless of the motivation)
The poisoned spring is the perversion—good appearing action driven by bad motivation/purpose.
I believe there are three springs in Missions. There is the good, the dry, and the poisoned springs (or good missions, non-missions, and flawed/perverse missions).
Here is my suggestion on these three:
- The Good Spring of Missions. “Living as God’s voice, hands, and feet outside of the church, motivated by love for God and for all in need.”
- The Dry Spring of Missions. “Rejecting the call to serve as God’s voice, hands, and feet outside of the church.”
- The Poisoned Spring of Missions. “Living as God’s voice, hands, and feet outside of the church, motivated by love of self, clique, or formula.”
Not surprisingly, it is easy to spot the dry spring of missions. Years ago, there was the Anti-missions movement, motivated by hyper (consistent) Calvinism often. In more recent years, Universalism, and Pluralism are more common motives. Some don’t act because they don’t care. They are easy to spot. But it is the poisoned spring that is harder to recognize. The perversion of missions may be successful, but is decayed at its core, because the focus is on the leader, the strategy, the method, the specific sect, and so forth… rather than on God and the needy.
To know Good Missions, we have to be able to recognize all three types.