What do we do now? – 4


James 3:16-17

FRIDAY, APRIL 10, 2015

Why leave the way Jesus has marked out?

Experienced skiers know that skiing off-piste has hidden hazards, and to do so without a guide endangers others as well as yourself.

If the Way that Jesus spoke of is the way of loving God and loving people, both in the fellowship and beyond, why aren’t we better at it?

You might think that a church founded on these simple but profound principles would flourish. People would be attracted. The neighbourhood would begin to be transformed. It would look like the real deal, and that’s what many are looking for.

Back in the ‘70s, the charismatic expression was thought to be the real deal. Certainly, this was vibrant – lively worship, teaching that hit the relevance spot and a few signs and wonders along the way, which seemed to show that God was in it. But then things go off the boil. What was fresh, starts to harden. Unity is sacrificed to opinion. Some conflict arises, and longstanding members leave. Those exploring their faith explore elsewhere. Graver difficulties are not far away. What causes this kind of slide?

With the awareness of the Holy Spirit comes a confidence – no bad thing – and an opening up of the ministry to more people. The church is a body of interconnected parts, as Paul says, and to be limited to one person’s gifts is, well, limiting. All well and good and this is the kind of church I have been used to for the past 30 years.

But all too often – I have lost count of the examples I have encountered – this confidence and being able to be led by the Holy Spirit has hardened into a self-sufficiency and “we know what we’re doing” arrogance. Be warned, trained and ordained church leader, because we know best and we don’t need you to steer us. To use a skiing analogy, it is going off-piste without a guide. I had a friend who managed to break his leg in nine places doing that, after finding himself airborne over a ravine.

Something has been lost! It is the focus on the priority which Jesus spelt out: love God, love each other, love others. He taught that this is how it works. Once that love for God and love for people gets deflected into, say, love for position or love for how we like to do things, we are on our own. “Jesus is Lord” but not here! We don’t reach others for Christ that way.

Giving priority to Father, Son and Holy Spirit and a similar priority to people inside and outside the fellowship – call it the Father’s heart, which is what it is – keeps us from evil and puts us in the place where He can grow us and use us.

It’s not complicated – until we make our own complications out of what Jesus taught plainly.


  • How much do you value sharing your thoughts and ideas with Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Do you love what they show you in these conversations?
  • To what extent is your church life with others a picture of intimacy with God and concern for His people? What do you say to the ‘corporate voice of action’ that is increasingly heard?


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