NO MORE TYPICAL. "Out of the box" is a relative cliche, I know. What does it refer to? It depends on where you're coming from. Believe it or not, some folks refer to me as "out of the box" even though I consider myself pretty traditional and conservative in most ways. I would hope that Christian mission moves me--sans labels, stereotypes, predictability, etc.--“outside the box” and into transformational living. And, of course, once we step outside of one box we're likely in the process of building or being formed by a new box. So, the image is only somewhat useful.
MOVING THEIR CHEESE. Still, I think it's safe to say that Paul and Barnabas were moving "outside the box" in Acts 13 and 14 as they are sent forth from their faith community in Antioch on the first "missionary journey." Letting the story lead, here are observations I drew from Acts 13-14 on Sunday:
1. Getting out of the box is usually not a matter of PREFERENCE--we are LED there. Acts 13:1-3. Paul and Barnabas aren’t just looking for adventure or something new or wanting to explore an emerging method. They are appointed, anointed and sent forth. Getting “outside the box” may be interesting on your own, but when it’s God-led it’s all about redemption and mission fulfillment.
2. Getting out of the box is usually not primarily for OUR benefit--but for OTHERS. Acts 13:4-5. When we’re “outside the box” in mission, it’s not about us. The point of reference is beyond us, beyond the present, beyond what we can see here and now. It’s about what God is doing to redeem others through us. It's not for us, it's through us. We lose our way when we get this wrong.
3. Out-of-the-box living stays ROOTED in foundational FAITH. Acts 13:16-41. Being out of the box is more about methodology and placement in mission. Wherever we are, the Word and the message is the same--the redeeming grace of God expressed in and made accessible through Jesus Christ. The means and the message, somehow, must connect.
4. Out-of-the-box living takes our faith to new LEVELS and unimaginable CHALLENGES. Acts 13:44-52. For Paul and Barnabas that means dealing with a sorcerer, taking the Good News to the streets and Gentiles (outside the synagogue and Jewish community), persecution, and far-flung travels. Get ready for a journey of faith when God points you outward.
5. Out-of-the-box living usually brings us FULL CIRCLE. Acts 14:21-28. It may seem very odd or crazy at the beginning, it may feel like you’re out on a limb, but if God goes before you and if you follow God’s leading, God will surely bring you home.