Friday, February 22, 2008

“The Enemy Is Out There” – Missional Learning Disability – Part 2

After yesterdays post on the first missional learning disability, “I Am Not My Title”, today I want to explore the second, “The Enemy Is Out There”. As I mentioned in the original post, this one particularly bothers me. It is especially prevelant with the passing of Christendom. In the face of our loss of influence and centrality in the wider culture, we face the temptation to ignore our own failure to be truly engaged in our world, shifting blame instead to something outside ourselves. Invariably the “fault” lies with something in “the world”.

My recent post on Dr. Alber Mohler’s statements in respect to Christians needing an “escape strategy” from the public school system is, in my opinion, a clear example of this missional disability. Am I saying that all Christians should have their children in public schools? Of course not! In fact, it is this kind of generalized sweeping recommendation (on either extreme of the issue) that expose a fear-based reaction, not a considered response out of love and missional engagement.

Of course, it is not just “the world” that gets to take the blame, but other Christians as well. Those involved in the emerging church conversation have had their own fair share of accusations leveled at them in this respect. (A point of caution: it is also easy for the opposite to be true- for emerging Christians to blame “Evangelicals” for our woes). Of course, there are legitimate critiques that must be addressed, but it is when we place greater emphasis on looking outside ourselves to justify our own failures that we risk falling prey to this disability. One of the challenges is that it can be a very self-affirming failure. How many times have we seen Christians denounce “the world” with contempt, then call it proof of their righteousness when the world rejects or criticizes them as a result? It is too easy to see this “persecution” as further proof that the world is out to get us.

One of the natural causes of this missional disabilities is, in fact, the “I Am My Title” disability. When we define our value through our position, whether as individuals or as communities, acknowledging our own failures is to call our very worth into question, thus we look outside ourselves. To be sure, there are enemies out there to which we must respond. However, our “weapons” are utilize as we move in the opposite spirit, responding not with accusations and blame, but grace, humility and love.

Posted by Jamie Arpin-Ricci in 04:48:31

5 Responses to ““The Enemy Is Out There” – Missional Learning Disability – Part 2”

  1. trevor says:

    Good post. A victim mentally is very unhealthy. Part of our calling is to stand up and be a voice for the voiceless – this is very different than circling the wagons against perceived threats to our Christian culture.

  2. Jamie Arpin-Ricci says:


    Exactly. If anyone had the right to defend themselves as a victim, it was Jesus. But where would that have landed us? Thanks!


  3. grace says:

    I’m just finishing up reading Consuming Jesus and I have found it to be extremely helpful and challenging in developing a missional attitude and perspective for our engagement with the world. It made me aware of how many churchy and imperialistic mentalities I have absorbed over the years. Plenty of work still to do in my own heart.

  4. Jamie Arpin-Ricci says:


    I have been meaning to finish Consuming Jesus, as I was really enjoying it. Thanks!


  5. can i make friend with you??