Thursday, 10 May 2018

When they ask, "What can I give God?"

This question was asked to me by someone who, over the past few weeks, has come to know the joy of knowing God and has seen their life transformed by it all. Telling me how everything had changed for the better since that first day they'd finally made the step into the church building they wanted to know what God might need them to do for Him as their response.

My answer was not, "Quick, fill out this standing order form," (the experience a new convert was subjected to) but to tell them the answer was, "Everything!" I then went on to explain that the words of Deuteronomy 6 we use at the Eucharist: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength," summed it up perfectly.

So often when we find people coming to Jesus and experiencing changes for the better we (or so it seems to me with my limited experience) push for the wrong things. We talk about being a committed member - but the last thing we need is for them to be committed (I've worked in mental health, believe me I know!) - we need them to be discipled!

We need to take our newbie on the journey which flows from meeting God to experiencing His love and life-changing power through to a committed and contemplative fullness of life in everything we are and do.

The challenge is that so many of us want to take our new folk off and fill them with knowledge. This something we've wrongly taken up as the norm thanks to the enlightenment project (Reformation) where the mantra, "If we understand it we can control it," rules the show. The reality is that rather than teach our people all the facts we need to teach them 'all the faith' and get them to experience all the feeling.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying, "Leave your brains at the door," that's something the world does and accuses the Church us of doing! We need to experience God in all His fullness and provide explanations which cause us to join the dots and to grow. We need to explain the basics and then explain as they find a question - and we need to encourage questions (for how else will they learn?).

I love the Acts story of the Ethiopian Eunuch coming to faith. Phillip asks him, "Do you understand what you are reading?" To which the Eunuch replies, "How can I, unless someone guides me?". This is the model of discipleship I love most:

1. Encourage them to meet God through the Gospel of Jesus, the Christ,

2. Ask they experience things, explain them and show them how to make the experience theirs,

3. Challenge their thinking so they develop a sound theology,

4. Wait for them to bring someone into Church and with the new person at step 1 repeat the process until the church building is full - then create another service or do Church in more than one place - repeat until the Church is full and the world is brought into relationship with God.

Enough writing - let's get out there and plunder hell (the place where humanity and God are forever separated).

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