Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Every One Carries Everyone

To begin, a paradox:

God created each and every living thing, including every human being (e.g. Psalm 139); and,

God created all living things to be reproducing, self-sustaining species, to be fruitful and increase in number (Genesis 1).

Every human being carries the code of life; a code expressed in them in a unique way; a code which can combine with the code carried in a corresponding other to create a new and unique life.

All but wipe out humanity, and we would begin again, according to God’s blueprint.  All but wipe out the Church, and she would grow again, according to Jesus’ distribution of his likeness through humanity.

Every human being is at a fundamental level created an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a shepherd or a teacher (abbreviation APEST; Ephesians 4); made to be a pioneer, a visionary, a recruiter, a nurturer or a trainer; as we share in the family likeness that is carried and perfectly expressed by Jesus, the one who has also liberated, and is liberating, his brothers and sisters.

Every human being carries the potential to be an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a shepherd or a teacher within them.

This coded matrix (APEST) configures in patterns that nuance the way in which we express the image of God; how, as we acknowledge him, we express the likeness of Christ – and this ‘nature’ combines in turn with ‘nurture,’ with the particular life experiences we live through, and the community contexts we are found in (for the person only exists in relation to other persons), to further flesh-out what Jesus-in-us (both personally and communally) looks like in the world.  In other words APEST is not merely a question of role (whether ‘in the church’ or ‘in the world’) but is core, in ways that we have yet to significantly explore, to person-ality and preference.*

And this potential is passed on, combined with another code, to create new persons.  So, I am a P who is significantly nuanced by A, and to lesser degrees by T, S and E; married to a S who is significantly nuanced by P, and to lesser degrees by T, A and E.  We have three children, still too young to know with any degree of certainty what they have been created to be – it could be any of the five, in any combination and variance of degrees, as we, as parents, carry and pass on the full potential – but we have the privilege of helping them discover and grow-into what Jesus has given them as, and for...

*I would love to see more mapping of APEST combinations against MBTI combinations.


  1. Hey mate - I remember you talking about spiritual gifts in the language of creation/redemption. Been meaning to ask you about this some time and esp where you earth it theologically/biblically. It makes sense - and its one thing I want to consider in the next few weeks in my teaching, but I haven't 'owned' it myself yet and need tot hink i thru a bit

  2. Hi Hamo! 'earthing' points:

    I see the five gifts in Eph 4 as differing from other NT spiritual gift lists in that [i] these are uniquely described as gifts of Christ (comparable to the list of gifts of the Spirit) and [ii] they are not activities/roles (e.g. prophesying, teaching) but people as gifts. i.e. all can exercise gift of prophecy, but we might expect prophets to use that gift more regularly, etc.

    I see Paul's citing Psalm 68 in this context as indicating that these are people who are liberated by Jesus and who give themselves to Jesus and who are given by Jesus - I have written about this at more length elsewhere. This is where I see continuity in the work of Jesus as creator and redeemer, setting us free (indeed, though the Bible is clear that God created the world, I read Genesis 1 primarily as a redemption account - the Word of God active after the world has been impacted by the heavenly rebellion - rather than - with the exception of the human being - a creation account...but that might be a tangent!)

    I see the way in which creation is given a role in its own continuation as demonstrating that we carry everything in potential within us, and pass it on as I describe above. This is perhaps more a theology of created life than an exposition of any biblical text.

    I see discipleship as the call to become Christ-like, and this in both a general, 'rounded' sense (all five APEST) and in a particular sense (specialisation, to use the Body of Christ image). I believe that God draws us into seasons beyond our primary gift, in order that we might become more rounded, but also that we might become more unique - the permutations are 120 possible combinations, in an even wider combination of degrees (the Ephesians text uses 'gift' twice, relating to both apostle, etc., and 'amount' of that gift).

    Enjoy your thinking it through! :-)

  3. Thanks mate :)

    There is a lot in those few paragraphs above - plenty to chew on and give thought to - appreciate it