Building Bridges to Intentionally Advance God’s Kingdom Takes Time & Commitment    

A few times this week it would have been easy for me to get up in the morning and say to myself, “This isn’t what I signed up for. It’s all too hard. Surely we can just focus all of our efforts on Sunday morning and that will open doors into the community.” Well, if that were the case then I’m pretty sure our meeting space would be overflowing weekly. The fact is the organised church gathering on a Sunday morning met needs a while ago but those times are gone. The opportunity to hold a gathering of family that celebrates what God is doing amongst us and through us in any given week is a wonderful privilege and one we are absolutely committed to. But like in Jesus time, the culture of religion has lost its flavour and attractiveness. There are so many inconsistencies across the recognised church and too many distractions for families to engage in on days when people aren’t working. The ONLY thing which IS attractive enough is JESUS and it’s been really hard to see Him clearly in the outworking of church meetings across the western world for quite some time.

No one is arguing that a lot of what we do IS useful and sometimes powerful for the sake of representing the Kingdom BUT if you and I fall for the world instigated lie that JUST providing a ‘programmed service’ once a week with all the trappings will revolutionize Australian society then we are at best deluded and at worst we are working for the enemy.  JESUS NEVER DID IT SO WHY DO WE ACCEPT THE WAY OUR WORLD OPERATES? WHY ONLY GIVE OUR GOD THE TIME AND PRIORITIZED EFFORT THAT WE HAVE LEFT OVER INSTEAD OF WHAT IT TAKES TO SHEPHERD OUR FAMILIES INTO THE EVERY DAY ADVENTURE CALLED LIFE IN CHRIST?

When the WORD became FLESH and Jesus walked on the earth, one of His very first tasks was to call a bunch of people to become disciples or followers whose vocation was to be bait for catching lost souls with the gospel. YES, this is Jesus’ THING, but it’s SURE NOT the sole province of professional ministers who do the work so others can tag along. The fact that humans chose to create THAT process has probably been one of the greatest stumbling blocks of all to the kingdom actually advancing. Jesus showed us from the beginning that it’s the Father God’s preference that we (everyday people from all walks of life) continually get all the resources we need from an intimate relationship with Him so together (not a bunch of lone rangers) we can sustain and reproduce in the way families are supposed to.

I guarantee that if you and I re-prioritized our whole lives by giving everything over to God and living for Him, everything that is truly important for us to spend time on would be enhanced, empowered and more.  For example, Church defined as an ‘I must attend on Sunday morning’ pursuit would never again get in the way of a genuinely important family occasion because as the body of Christ, we’d celebrate it with you. That’s what Jesus was trying to show us. BE the church instead of DO the church. Attending a service once a week is a worthy discipline BUT being resourced to live every day to the glory of Christ on the earth right where you are is THE BIGGER DEAL. It’s a bonus when we can gather together to celebrate God’s work in our lives and his kingdom advancing; encouraging each other to be more like Jesus and ministering to each other’s needs (as families do) and because that version of a reason to meet IS energizing and looks more like Jesus, we are more likely to want to meet. That’s what transforming revival based on His kingdom come, does.

People will still bring to the effort according to the scope of anointing on their lives and it is within this process alone that any conversation about the ‘labourer being worth his/her hire’ should be undertaken. Called out and anointed leaders will facilitate and coordinate the ‘building work’ and fill gaps when necessary whatever happens BUT being a hired minister doesn’t create that in you, ONLY a revelation of God that is seen by more than you can do that. I know ministers who couldn’t fill gaps even if their name was Selleys NO MORE GAPS so let’s get back to Jesus method of equipping and imparting and discipling, stop the rot and give genuine anointed facilitative leadership a chance to get the wheels moving.

So, that was context for the answer to my challenge through this week.  I don’t measure what didn’t seem to happen at our ‘Coffee’s ON’ opportunity last Wednesday Morning OR what didn’t seem to happen at our first Wednesday after work Kingdom Conversation OR that we weren’t able to get our HOPE Children’s Choir information into the last newsletter for Corrimal East PS this school term, by using the finite measuring tools of Sunday church world, I measure what happened by how much more of Jesus our neighbourhood saw; by how much more of the culture of heaven the people at the school we were negotiating with encountered; by how many neighbourhood dog walkers stopped and said Gidday with interest or asked a question that opened a door for ANY connection that might open a door for demonstrating the more accessible love of Jesus.

We will learn in Mark chapter FOUR that Jesus strategically built bridges with absolutely NO EXPECTATION for a response from His listeners NOR those who received some gift from Him, He simply scattered GOOD HEAVEN ENRICHED SEED so that everyone who came in contact with it had equal chance to encounter something life transforming. In the parable of the sower and the seed, even though some of the seed didn’t grow, there was still a bumper harvest. At times the disciples would feel discouraged and despairing at the effort seemingly wasted and even suffering failure, BUT this parable said to them and to US, be patient, keep faithful to the revelation, do the work and trust God. When the seed finds some good soil to grow in, the creator gardener Jesus works in partnership with His apprentices (you and me) for the harvest. Let’s focus on that journey and TRUST Jesus to build his body – the Church.  More stories NEXT WEEK …

Here’s the Link to What’s Happening at the HUB this week

Mark Chapter FOUR (What did Jesus actually DO?)

  1. Jesus ONCE AGAIN chooses self-inconvenience and turns the place He was using in the everyday of life and ministry, into a safe place that gives people easier access to receive something from heaven. Jesus recognises that teaching which re-aligns needed to continue through synagogue engagements BUT THAT the kingdom message also needed an everyday language and an appropriate location where others (ALL) could hear and understand (vs 1)
  2. Jesus used parables because they were stories that caught people with interest to keep their attention AND they were completely familiar to Jewish tradition (e.g. 2 Samuel 12:1-7). The first complete parable from Jesus that Mark records is itself about the kingdom, how it is communicated and the factors that are associated with people’s reception of it. (vs 2-8)
  3. Jesus DIDN’T demand his listeners or badger them to respond favourably to the truth of the kingdom, He simply proclaimed the kingdom good news story and handed the responsibility over to His listener. JESUS NEVER THOUGHT FOR OTHERS, HE JUST TOLD GREAT STORIES AND CREATED SAFE SPACES WITHIN WHICH PEOPLE COULD THINK FOR THEMSELVES (Vs 9)
  4. Jesus ALSO left the responsibility of understanding the import of His message in the hands of His disciples. He created a safe space for questions to be asked that allowed hungry and connected hearts to receive core revelation from the Father in Spirit and in truth. (vs 10)
  5. Jesus IS NOT saying that He deliberately tells parables to hide the truth of heaven from His listeners, He simply doesn’t hide his sorrow that the gift He has brought is so life giving that He delivers it faithfully for the sake of those who have ears to hear and respond. (vs 11-12) (More about this in Graeme’s Sunday Message)
  6. Jesus’ parables in this chapter consisted of everyday detail that every hearer would have understood. In effect, He was establishing a picture of the kingdom of God and how it would be engaged, represented AND declared / demonstrated. (vs 13-34)
  7. In the verses about calming the storm, Jesus persisted in highlighting the difference in understanding that will come to His followers from a growing intimacy with Him. The more we know Jesus, the more His heart impacts our own. He starts by operating in complete trust of His relationship with His Father – that’s something to emulate (Vs 35-41)