When I was in third grade, before I took my first Iowa Basic test, I remember my teacher giving us a pep talk about the test. Besides the instructions about using our sharpened number two pencils to completely color the A, B, C or D circles, and erasing completely if we decided to change our answer, I’ll always remember her telling us that tests were fun.
I bought her pitch – hook, line and sinker. I loved standardized tests, and though I was never a brilliant student (hated sitting in class), I usually tested well. Tests were fun!
Not long ago, my husband and I took an on-line theology quiz entitled “What’s Your Theological Worldview”? (Bill, the leading theologian in my life, pointed out that the quiz-maker’s biases and pet issues appear to be pretty obvious judging from the wording of some of the questions.)
In case you’re wondering, I’ll tell you how I scored at the end of this blog entry*.
But first, a thought about a different kind of test. Today after church, there was a brief meeting about a new partnership between the congregation and a sister school and church in Africa. We were told this isn’t about going in there and doing projects. In fact, the people in charge of facilitating this partnership strongly cautioned the church away from doing projects, recommending instead our role is to form relationships and to learn.
I’ve served on missions committees before, even putting together some short-term missions trips – and years ago, met Bill at a church formed out of a missions training program. I’ve known lots and lots of cross-cultural missionaries, lifers. The thinking in my life, once upon a time, was that the Great Commission meant “doing missions”. “Doing missions” was an acid test of spiritual committment among some of the people I’ve known. And though “doing missions” tends to patronize people and turns them into projects, that very American (and non-Biblical) thinking runs deep in us evangelicals.
Though I am not that person anymore, I realize that the real test of the Great Commission in my life might be the Great Commandment: to love God, heartsoulmindstrength – and to love others. In relationship, learning. The test doesn’t come in setting and achieving measurable ministry goals.
It comes in washing someone else’s feet, and allowing them to wash mine.
* Theological worldview quiz results:
How someone can be equally emergent, fundamentalist and charismatic is beyond me. Maybe I need medication for this…