Monday, July 8, 2013

Following the Prototype

If you follow this blog, you know that over the past month or so I've been posting quotes from a book I really enjoyed, - Jonathan Martin's Prototype: What Happens When You Discover That You Are More Like Jesus Than You Think.  I think it's now time for a brief wrap up.

Martin is a Pentecostal (Church of God) pastor, and founder of an interesting church in North Carolina called Renovatus, which advertises itself as a church for "liars, dreamers and misfits" under renovation by Jesus..  From their website:
We believe there is no better word than renovation for what happens when people start embodying the Kingdom of God (primary message of Jesus on earth) in a city. Renovation is what happens when people practice spiritual disciplines like prayer, worship, study and confession. Renovation is what happens when liars, dreamers and misfits have a meaningful encounter with Jesus Christ, and submit to a gradual process of real transformation. Renovation is what happens when people begin to read ancient Scriptures and start living into the stories they read. Renovation is what happens when worship becomes a way of life, and prayer a way of being in the world with God. Renovation is what happens when people demonstrate the power and justice of God by demonstrating the Kingdom in life together. A small band of us set out to live that kind of renovation: to join God in renovating ordinary lives to embody the Kingdom. 
If you are pentecostal/charismatic adverse, be forewarned that some of that practice and atmosphere is found in this book, particularly in Martin's reminiscences of childhood experiences at pentecostal camp meetings. However, if you can get past that, there is a lot in this book that any evangelical Christian can benefit from.

The thesis of the book is that Jesus was uniquely conscious of His status as the beloved Son of God, but that we also have similar derivative status by our redemption and adoption as sons & daughters of the Father. Jesus heard the voice of the Father at His baptism calling Him "My Beloved Son," and never forgot that voice, even in the immediate crises of His desert temptation, all the way through Gethsemane and the cross. Security in the knowledge of His identity and "belovedness" freed Jesus to love others freely and unconditionally. Jesus heard the voice, knew His identity....and never forgot.

Martin goes on to say that many Christians have also heard that voice of acceptance in Christ  Our problem, however, is that we soon forget! He says that if we can learn to know and believe our identity as beloved and accepted in Christ, we too can be freed from the need to present phony fronts to the world around us, and be free to love and accept others as Jesus did. Following Jesus is not just WWJD (What would Jesus Do), but who did Jesus know He was, and do I also know my own identity as a beloved child of God. If we do, then, even as Jesus' wounds on the cross became symbols of victory and glory, our personal spiritual and psychological wounds can become, not things of shame to hide, but things to glory in as symbols of His victory in us, and  tools of Christ's work through us to free others. That is what makes Jesus the "prototype," or, to use a more Scriptural term, the author and finisher of our faith.

I'm not going true justice to the book in this brief summary. This book has taken me apart, and its message is now putting me back together in strange ways. Go back and read all the quotes I've posted, or, better yet, get and read the book. I do not think you will be disappointed.