“The Challenge of Jesus”: Update June 2013

As I was preparing to write this update last week, I received an email from a Link missionary in Pakistan, introducing me to a young lady who has been an active member of the Pakistan Fellowship of Evangelical Students and who will be coming to New York this fall to begin teaching at NYU. What an exciting email to receive first thing in the morning! My missionary colleague wanted to help put her former student in touch with an InterVarsity fellowship here at NYU. She then humbled me to the point of tears by offering to make a donation to my ministry here at NYU to help me start the year off strong. She reminded me of what Saint Paul told both the Romans and the Ephesians: We are “members of one another.”

NYU BBQ

This exchange reminded me that you—my fellow workers—and I are also missionaries participating in God’s global mission. With your help, at NYU I will have the opportunity to serve some of the best and brightest graduate, medical, dental, and law students from around the world, walking alongside of them and challenging them to follow Jesus in their various callings. It’s a tough ministry environment—a recent study by the Barna Group ranked New York City as one of the ten most irreligious cities in the United States—but God is answering your prayers and working in powerful ways here.

I’ve already begun reviewing James Sire’s book The Universe Next Door (here), but this month I also want to introduce you to N.T. Wright’s fantastic little book, The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is.  N.T. Wright is this generation’s foremost New Testament scholar. In addition to having taught New Testament studies at Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, McGill, and now St. Andrew’s Universities, Wright is the former Anglican Bishop of Durham and an evangelical. The Challenge of Jesus is based on a series of lectures he delivered in Chicago at InterVarsity’s first graduate student and faculty conference. Wright’s book critiques modern revisionist portrayals of Jesus as a wandering cynic or a Gnostic guru, defends the fundamental historical reliability of the Gospels, and unpacks the significance of the person and message of Jesus for His day and ours. I hope you will follow along with me this month here on the blog as I review this book and explore the ways in which it can help you and me in living and communicating the gospel in the postmodern world.

According to Wright, Jesus is much more than a fitting centerpiece for one’s private spirituality, more than a historical figure, and more than a religious figurehead.  No, Jesus is the be-all and end-all all of reality, which means that His life, death and resurrection have ramifications for just about everything.  In the book’s final chapter, Wright eloquently outlines the challenge Jesus poses us to engage university campuses and the world:

The gospel of Jesus points us and indeed urges us to be at the leading edge of the whole culture, articulating in story and music and art and philosophy and education and poetry and politics and theology and even, heaven help us, biblical studies, a worldview that will mount the historically rooted Christian challenge to both modernity and postmodernity, leading the way into the post-modern world with joy and humor and gentleness and good judgement and true wisdom. I believe we face the question: If not now, then when?…If not us, then who? And if the gospel of Jesus is not the key to this task, then what is?

That is the challenge of Jesus.

Thank you for joining us in taking up this challenge, the challenge of the gospel. With your support I will be serving and equipping the culture-makers, idea-shapers, and world leaders of the next generation to use their gifts, opportunities, and educations for the up-building of God’s Kingdom and the advancement of God’s global mission.

Finally, thank you for all of your prayers and support! I am so blessed to have such an incredible community of fellow workers with me on this journey.

To those of you who have been partnering with me financially, I hope that you will continue as I enter this new phase of life and ministry in one of our country’s most challenging mission fields. If you are not currently a financial partner, the InterVarsity team and I would appreciate your prayerful consideration. The budget to operate the ministries for the graduate, medical, dental, and law students at NYU requires support of approximately $6,600 per month from the Christian community. Every contribution matters as we strive to meet the challenges ahead. I hope that you will consider enrolling to support this ministry with a monthly, quarterly or annual contribution.  Donations can be made online here.

Thank you again for all of your prayers and support!

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