Delegates of the 13th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia have been challenged and inspired by reflections on the theme Life Overflowing by Rev Luna Dingayan.
“To have life overflowing is to have life in Christ, or to put it in another way, to live the life of Christ,” said Rev Dingayan, who is president of the Ecumenical Theological Seminary in the Philippines.
On Monday, speaking from Deuteronomy 30:11-20 and Exodus 3:7-12, Rev Dingayan reminded delegates of the Exodus and reflected on the missional nature of God. He challenged those present “to be renewed in our commitment God and to God’s mission in the world.” Rev Dingayan called the Church today to open our eyes to the affliction of peoples all around the world, and to open our ears to their cries. He reminded us that God is a God who came down, and that we too should “come down and be with the people in their sufferings and struggles.” Finally, Rev Dingayan called for the church to actively participate in God’s work to bring people out of a land of captivity into a land of promise.
We are pleased to share an extract of his message here.
To be renewed in our commitment to God and his mission in the world is to realize God’s abiding presence. When Moses said to God, “I am nobody, how can I go to the King of Egypt and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” God answered him saying, “I will be with you “. When Jesus Christ our Lord gave the Great Commission to his disciples, he also concluded saying, “I will be with you always to the end of the age” (Mt.28: 16-20).
The God we believe in is not only a God who calls, but also a God who provides. When God calls us to fulfill a particular task, God in wondrous ways will also provide the necessary resources to fulfill that task. I am saying this not only as a cold doctrinal belief, but as a testimony of my own personal experience as a servant of God.
When we started our Seminary in 1996 in Baguio City, we have nothing at all, except a vision for the church. We started with 35 students to feed and to equip for the ministry. We never have a salary. But we never starved! God’s grace has been sufficient for us. To date, we have 456 students entrusted to our care to equip.
The fulfillment of God’s mission in the world does not depend upon us. It does not depend upon our own strength and resources, not even the help of our partners in mission. Rather it depends ultimately upon God’s abiding presence. God said, “I will be with you “.
In his letter to the Romans, the great missionary of the Early Church, Apostle Paul, said,
“If God is with us, who can be against us? Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble do it, or hardship or persecution or hunger or poverty or danger or death? No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us. There is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:31-39).
God’s abiding presence transforms our fears and anxieties into courage and hope. Moses knew that doing God’s mission in the world is not an easy task. He knew that he had to face the powers-that-be in Egypt. He knew that he had to convince the people that their genuine aspirations as a people are also God’s own aspirations for them. He had to convince the people that there is more to life than slavery and oppression. As a matter of fact, Moses knew that it is far more difficult to convince the people who are slaves about their need to be free than to break the hardened heart of the Pharaoh and let the people go.
Moses knew that in doing God’s mission in the world he would be treated harshly by his own people, that he would be criticized by those whom he loved, that he would be charged with all sorts of things, that he would be betrayed by those for whom he would risked his own life. Moses realized that he could not do God’s mission in the world with his own strength. But with God’s abiding presence he knew that he can do something in order that his own people who had been slaves for a long time will be set free.
At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus Christ our Lord knew that in fulfilling God’s mission in the world he would ultimately face the cruel cross. But nevertheless, he said to the Tempter in the wilderness, “Worship the Lord your God, and him alone you shall serve “(Mt 4:10). And to those who would like to be his followers, he also said, “If anyone wants to come with me, he must forget himself, carry his cross, and follow me” (Mk.8:34).
But God’s promise is so great to those who remain faithful in their commitment to God’s mission in the world, “I will be with you”. Prophet Isaiah reminds us that “they who wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint”(Isa. 40:31).
On Tuesday, Rev Dingayan shared reflections on the ways of genuine and lasting peace, followed by a message on the proclamation of the reign of God in the midst of the reign of greed this morning. Delegates can look forward to hearing Rev Dingayan’s reflections on our vision of new heavens and a new earth and the healing of nations tomorrow.
To read a full transcript of all of Rev Dingayan’s reflections, click here.