Monday, December 1, 2014

Mansio



Your statutes are my song

in the house of my sojourning.

                - Psalm 119:54

I so love that word sojourning.  A smile comes to my face every time I read this verse.  I guess because it so aptly describes this peripatetic ministry that God has called me to.  A ministry of movement. A ministry of traveling the back roads and mule trails of our world in search of those who have not heard of the God who loves them, in search of those who do not have access to the Statues that are my song.

In John 14:2 Jesus tells us, In My Father’s house are many dwelling places;[a] if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you.  We evangelicals typically read this as confirmation that Jesus is up in heaven building mansions for us to live the good life once we die.  However, in light of some of Jesus’ other teachings (see Luke 17:20-21 for example), I believe there may be a better interpretation.  That little [a] footnote on dwelling places in the Holman Christian Standard Bible tells us, “The Vulgate used the Latin term Mansio, a traveler’s resting place.”  In the Roman world, in which the New Testament was written, the term mansio was far from our concept of mansion, a palatial home where one lives a life of total leisure while servants meet our every need.  A Roman mansio was a resting place for government employees traveling the Roman road.  A temporary stopover to refresh and refuel before continuing on with official business.  Rather than a reward for years of faithful service the mansio was a practical tool to help Roman officials complete the emperor’s business. 

Christ has called us to a life of service.  Rather than sitting in our mansions (i.e. church buildings) wondering why the lost aren’t coming to us He told us to, “go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all of creation.”  He told us to be out on the ‘Roman Road’ conducting the King’s business and that He is going on ahead of us providing mansiones for our rest, nourishment and encouragement.

Our mansio may at times take a physical form.  I began writing this while at a basic little guesthouse in Southeast Asia.  I was resting and recovering after a very long day out sharing the Gospel.  The lush, jungle-covered mountains outside my window and the sound of the waterfall brought peace and comfort to my weary soul.  Jesus prepared this particular mansio to refresh and restore me for continuing service tomorrow.

Our mansio may also come in spiritual form as Psalm 119:54 did for me this morning.  Jesus is the Word and He has given us Himself in the form of the Living Word.  His statues are my song in my house of sojourning.  His Word is the Bread and the Wine that sustains me on my journey.  I rest in His Word and am energized for another day of service.

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