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What Will Teaching God's Way Be Like in the Second Resurrection?

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What Will Teaching God's Way Be Like in the Second Resurrection?

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Is there any time in mankind’s history or future more fascinating than the second resurrection?

What will it be like to meet a 900 year old man? Imagine people from every time and place rising simultaneously? How will it feel when people from all the layers of history rise and look at each other—people from ancient times, Roman times, Dark Ages, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Industrial Revolution, and Space Age?

For us the real question is what will it be like to teach them? This is their chance, how will you assist them in coming to conversion? These questions don’t have to go unanswered; we can actually take a lesson from experiences as recent as the aftermath of World War II.

In the midst of the Second World War Australian spotter planes searching out Japanese positions on the island of New Guinea began seeing tribe after tribe of peoples never before contacted by white men. Photographs were taken noting body markings, dress and geographical location. Eventually scores of different tribes were identified but not until war’s end were conditions right for missionaries to enter this forbidding territory.

For the zealous young missionaries arriving in New Guinea in the 1950s, the answer to the question, “How do I step into the world of Stone Age people and bring them to conversion?” wasn’t that different from our question, “How will we assist the vast array of people rising in the second resurrection?”

Romans 10:13-14 describe the timeless, universal steps—how can you call upon a God you don’t know until you believe? How can you believe until you hear? How can you hear without a teacher? Our task will be to teach, with all that entails.

A fascinating book entitled Peace Child chronicled the efforts of Don and Carol Richardson, a young missionary couple, as they began work in the coastal jungles of New Guinea. As they took up residence on the banks of the Kronkel River, the mechanical steps in their assignment were no different from those of scores of missionaries who had gone before them. They were assigned to a tribe that had never seen a white man. They had to locate the tribe, move near them, learn their language, create a written form of it, teach the tribal members to read, and finally write a Bible in that language. Now they were fully prepared to teach them about salvation.

As sons of God our mechanical task will obviously be easier but there is no reason to believe God will wave a magic wand, so to speak, and take away the natural challenges. The majority of humanity in history have been illiterate. They must still learn to read a written language that captures their way of thinking before teaching will be effective. But the mechanical challenges, whatever they may be, are the easier part of the task.

The greater challenge in teaching any people is to come to understand where they are mentally, emotionally, culturally, addressing them where they are. We all think in our own language and to reach us you must come to where we are. Paul understood this well. He said of his ministry that he became all things to all men so he might win some to Christ (1 Corinthians 9:22). He went where they were.

We have a small window into Paul’s skill in Acts 17 as Paul addressed an audience on Mars Hill.

Paul reached out to a Greek audience on their terms, quoting their poets and pointing to their monuments. Paul like other great teachers understood the greatest challenge in bringing the world to conversion is reaching them on their own turf mentally and emotionally. This will be our challenge also.

As the Richardsons set up home in the steamy jungles of coastal New Guinea they entered a world of thought completely foreign to every value we hold. Generations of men and women had been taught to think in ways we can’t imagine. Children from infancy were encouraged to be defiant, belligerent, aggressive, self-willed—the first step in becoming cunning and deceitful—the highest achievement in tribal life.

The natives inland from the coast of New Guinea were headhunters, cannibals. Deceit was to them the highest virtue. The greatest achievement in tribal life was to convince someone from a neighboring tribe to come to dinner as a guest and end up the main course. But, when everyone has the same objective how does one deceive the other? Extraordinary cunning! They referred to their tactic as “fattening with kindness.” The greater the cunning and deceit the greater the respect and the person who excelled was given the esteemed title of “Legendmaker.” Around the nighttime fires in the manhouses where tribal members gathered the stories of the Legendmakers’ prowess were repeatedly told to admiring audiences.

How does one bridge such a cultural abyss as this? Don Richardson, to his dismay, found that while teaching a group of men about Judas’ betrayal of Jesus he had inadvertently given the tribe a new hero—Judas, the deceitful betrayer who delivered his master to be killed. Judas had become their super hero!

Overcoming cultural differences and twisted thinking such as this has been and will be the greater challenge in bringing people to conversion. Paul rose to that challenge on Mars Hill, and his approach to the Athenian audience has been adopted by the modern Christian world and given a title—the Redemptive Analogy—the process of finding analogies to build bridges between the listener’s way of thinking and the way of God. Even among the skeptical thinkers on Mars Hill Paul’s approach still connected with some in Athens (Acts 17:32-34).

As the Richardsons’ work among the Sawi progressed they were unaware that circumstances would eventually provide them with the ultimate redemptive analogy.

Initially their life was immersed in learning—first the language, next its grammar and eventually how and why the people thought the way they did. Initially 10 hours a day were spent listening and talking with the men of the tribe in an attempt to learn the language. To Don’s surprise he found an intriguing contrast—a Stone Age people with a highly sophisticated language.

As the relationship between the Richardsons and the Sawi strengthened, three Sawi tribes decided to move next to the Richardson’s jungle cottage and establish new villages. The results were disastrous.

They found themselves in the midst of endless fighting. The slightest offense resulted in shouting, stomping, screaming and the eventual hail of spears and arrows. Wounds were nursed and bandaged if not fatal, and the feuds went on. Fourteen battles were fought in the first two months. In the midst of ceaseless chaos the Richardsons concluded they had but one choice if they were to keep the tribes from killing one another: They had to leave and let them go back to their separate villages. As Don and Carol began packing the reality of the loss sank in and tribal leaders begged them not to go. They promised a solution—a Peace Child.

In the deep roots of Sawi culture rested a survival tool reserved for drastic times. In an emotionally charged ceremony a father would take one of his infant sons and, carrying him tenderly in his arms toward the other tribe, place him in the arms of an enemy tribesman. It was emotionally wrenching. Mothers wailed at the loss of their babies, and fathers wept as they delivered them into enemy arms.

But for the Sawi it was a last ditch effort at peace. Every tribe who received a Peace Child considered it the responsibility of the whole tribe to guard the life of their new citizen. Their honor depended upon it, and so did peace. Peace between the tribes was guaranteed only as long as the child lived.

The Richardsons who had failed to break through the cultural barriers of a society of deceit finally found a door—a redemptive analogy—the Peace Child. They had found a practice from within the tribes, and as they used it to explain that Jesus Christ was offered by His Father in order to make peace with us, the barriers began to fall. The Jesus who had been the victim of the deceitful “hero” Judas became the Peace Child who all could honor and respect. Sawi ears could now hear. Changes followed.

Looking forward to the second resurrection, scores of generations scattered around the globe over millennia will rise from the dead. Every imaginable and unimaginable culture will come to life. As with all who went before them, conversion cannot be commanded. Hearts much be reached, ears must be opened. Teachers will need to connect with every pattern of thinking from every age and help create connections with God. What will your redemptive analogies be? How will you teach the true and only Peace Child to men and women of every age?  


  • beginanew
    Thanks for this insight Robert, great story. I appreciate all of UCG members/family because you guys are doing your part to open many eyes and hearts each and everyday, including mine. Thanks again an have very blessed week.
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