From time to time I am reminded of the blatant flaws in the UBF theology of sacrifice, and the need to publicly correct such flaws. Today I received two thank-you emails from friends who have suffered much in their lives at the hands of UBFism. Such gratitude inspired me to share today’s post. What is the mission statement of Jesus?
UBF teaches “Go into all the world”
Everyone who hears a UBF Sunday lecture readily understands this teaching. UBF leaders continually teach that the end of each gospel contains the most important command of Jesus. They point to the great commission as Jesus’ mission statement. They seemed to me to prefer the Mark 16:15 version, since it is shorter…
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
Or they will quote the first part of Matthew 28:19.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”
The flaws in the teaching are numerous, such as leaving out the part about baptizing. But these are minor flaws compared to the biggest mistake: this is not Jesus’ mission statement. It sounds good. It sounds Christian. And it is indeed the great commission. Jesus does indeed want his disciples to “go into all the world”. So what is the problem?
Leaving out the Mission
For all the talk at UBF about mission, it might be difficult to see that they actually don’t talk about Jesus’ mission at all. The great commission is truncated by UBF shepherds and missionaries to just “go”. They really only care about going into the world and making new recruits. If you pry into what the new recruits are supposed to do, you get the standard “go fishing” answer.
In other words, the truncated mission statement leads UBF people into a trap. They get caught on a hamster wheel of making recruits without knowing why. They end up just trying to meet their weekly one-to-one quotas. If they do that, they have some sense of relief. But the all-surpassing joy of the new wine Jesus promises eludes them. A dark cloud hangs over their life and ministry work.
As someone recently pointed out here, Matthew 23:15 goes a long way to explain the situation many UBF people find themselves in…
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.”
Harsh words, yes. Harsh words are needed though, when hypocrisy marks those who claim to follow Christ. To make disciples with a sense of “go” is not Christian. In fact, according to Jesus such recruitment is evil.
What is the mission then?
The mission is to be found in the context of those “go into the world” statements. Context makes all the difference. In context, the mission is all about liberation and joy. It is about freedom and releasing the bonds. Without this mission of freedom, we end up putting shackles on people. This is at the heart of why I had to leave UBF — UBFism and their theology of sacrifice wrapped my life with ropes of pain. In a spiritual sense, following UBFism lead me to slavery, not to freedom.
Jesus desires mercy, not sacrifice. Matthew 12:7
I find that Luke 4:18-21 is so very helpful to correct this thinking.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Lesson learned. If someone, even a nice Christian missionary who gives you a lot of kimchee, puts your life in bondage, know this: They are not acting of Christ. Bondage is evil. Freedom is good.
Some perhaps blindly “just obey” their shepherd by fishing for new recruits and end up being in bondage to UBF rules, also known as the so-called “UBF core values” or legacies of the founder, Samuel Lee.
But I believe I was a “hard-core UBFer” for over 2 decades (with no regrets) because my primary motivation was the grace of Jesus. So though I kept the “UBF rules” rigidly and legalistically, yet I believe that I did so primarily because of God’s mercy, grace, kindness, goodness and generosity extended to me by His presence and Spirit and not just because UBF enslaved me (though it did to a degree).
I believe I am still firmly committed to Mt 28:19 (which I did learn from UBF), but no longer in bondage to UBF rules, laws or expectations but in accordance with how I perceive the Spirit to be leading me.
But to anyone in UBF who is told directly or implicitly that they should “just obey” or “never question your shepherd/chapter leader” I would strongly encourage them to seriously rethink such unhealthy unbiblical attitudes.
“But to anyone in UBF who is told directly or implicitly that they should “just obey” or “never question your shepherd/chapter leader” I would strongly encourage them to seriously rethink such unhealthy unbiblical attitudes.”
In my 24 years at ubf, I never heard anyone say that. No one at ubf verbally teaches such a thing as “blindly obey”.
You have to listen to their actions.