Saturday, January 25, 2013
What really matters: Community as those who “are with Him”.
Rev David White, vicar of St Andrew’s, Chorleywood, spoke at a recent Bucks New Wine day
What did Jesus seek to establish right at the beginning of His ministry? A committed, single-hearted, community “to be with Him” and that He could work with.
Mark 3:13-15 (my emphasis)
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve – designating them apostles – THAT THEY MIGHT BE WITH HIM and that He might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.
God works through community. Jesus modelled that with those pioneer apostles, involving them closely in what He did. Of course He was training them to carry on doing everything He did (my paraphrase of the sense of Matthew 28:19-20). It has taken me longer to realise, considering the whole sweep of Scripture, that because this is the way God does it, therefore it is the way it works.
It starts with His call and our response to that call to “be with Him”. That is the indispensable vertical dimension of community. From that point the horizontal dimension, which could be expressed as ‘those who are drawn together in a shared call to “be with Him” ’ emerges fairly naturally.
I recently met David White who recently became vicar of St Andrew’s Chorleywood, a popular conference venue. He spoke on his reflection of 30 years of ministry in five very different locations: north, south, inner city, outer suburb, marginal and missional – what had worked, what had gloriously failed and what he wished he had learned at the outset. It boiled down to making a real priority of prayer, being more concerned with God – this relationship really matters – and less with other issues, which do not (in one particular season of prayer he saw 45 people come to the Lord in a single month); and recognising that tiny becomes huge when Jesus is involved.
If it’s all about relationship, it is also all about community – community with Him first, then community because of Him. That’s how it works.