I have been reflecting on the next steps for me in God’s calling. I am still searching for clarity. God has provided through various means of part time work and some consulting. More than that, God has provided through a transformative relationship with Him in a way I had yet experienced. I have come to see that absolute dependence is what God desires. Not a half hearted intellectual understanding at the idea of surrender. Real surrender to His presence and will in my life. I am still learning this truth but because of the journey God has had me on here are some thoughts I have on the future regardless of specifics.
The Church is lacking nothing it needs to accomplish God’s mission. I have repeated this refrain for a long time, but even as I did I misunderstood its true meaning. I saw the “what” as resources, time, people, gifting, passion, networks, relationships, etc. All of this assumes God needs us. It is true God has humbled Himself to work through us. Why? I’ll never know. But He has. The real truth behind God’s condescension toward us is that WE NEED GOD! Whatever form the Church takes as it participates in God’s mission in the world, there is one constant; we cannot do it without God. I am learning that this might even be the very crux of the mission. A transformation to complete dependence on God for all that we need is the end goal, not a means to the end.
A transformational friendship with God is the power of the Church. We write books with all kinds of strategies for how to succeed as the Church. We gather resources, dole them out as we see fit and create systems we can fit people in to bend them toward our end goal. When we do this, we miss the real power the Church has. We have something better to offer than more entertainment, quick fixes, or systems. Our offer is a transformational relationship with their creator. The early 20th century preacher and author Leslie Weatherhead wrote a whole book on the concept;
“There is no greater need in our time than that those who teach religion should concern themselves, not with tightening up the machinery, developing organization, or arranging more meetings; but rather to make Jesus real to men; to invite them into that transforming fellowship which cannot be proved save by personal experience, but which, when realized, brings men that glorious exhilaration, that sense of ineffable peace, and that escape from all bondage which are promised in the New Testament.”
THE TRANSFORMING FRIENDSHIP by Leslie Weatherhead
Finally we are all broken in some way. We will admit it with lips and deny it by all our actions. None of us wants to face just how sorely things are not right in the deepest depths of our being. This reality is far too scary for us. What I have come to know is that we cannot offer a transformational relationship with Jesus unless we first have experienced it. We cannot experience it unless we have owned our brokenness and dared to tread in the space we have long locked away from our present reality to defend ourselves against that pain. We want to make it about other people and what they should change but we have no control over that. We must turn to the log in our own eye keeping us from seeing others with compassion and grace. I can’t say it any better than Henri Nouwen so I’ll leave it to him.
I hope I learn to know less and less and depend more and more. But what God does help me to see I’ll share here.