The dust is now settling on our leaders weekend here in Rzyschiv. It’s interesting how each gathering evolves. I’m learning to prepare a lot of material but hold things loosely how the weekend unfolds. This is not an easy learning process for me. I like to have things locked and loaded, so that I can relax and work through a schedule like clockwork and have a sense of accomplishment at the end. The goal however is not the passing on of information, but to experience and interact with our Creator, and one another in deeply meaningful ways.
As believers, we gather not to simply absorb information but intentionally commune with God and one another.
We dove into the Triune nature of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. How often do we consider the loving, diverse union of our Creator within himself? This perfect union is what Jesus prayed we would experience in John 17, the purpose of the Son being sent, “that they may be one, eve as We are.”
“To be a person is to be made in the image of God: that is the heart of the matter. If god is a communion of persons inseparably related, then.. .it is our relatedness to others that our being human consists.” -Gunton
We often think that independence, particularly in the west, is always a sign of strength. To not ‘need’ anyone, to be on your own, isolated, strong. Yet, do we consider the Trinity as the ultimate revelation of perfect power? Is God weak because within Himself there is a mutual interdependence, a humble reliance on relational love? Creator God is perfect freedom, yet that freedom is woven into the fabric of harmonious relationship. To be free is to be in whole, sincere, vulnerability with others. To be isolated from meaningful relationship with God and others is to be something other than God’s image. In essence, our rebellion from God is expressed as we imprison ourselves in independence. We flourish in His free flowing relationship in Himself and are given a blueprint for lateral human relationships. God is not codependent, nor is He independent by nature in Himself, but rather interdependent – and that is not weakness, but what perfect wholeness and harmony looks like.
The problem lies in our broken world. Relating to one another is a tricky task! We spent time discussing the concept of differentiation, how to know where ‘you’ begin and end. How to be a non-anxious presence, particularly as leaders, around unhealthy people who unwittingly bring their stress and problems to you. The difference between burden bearing, and enmeshing ourselves in situations that are unhealthy, and yet recognizing the tendency as well to isolate ourselves – why we do these things, and what we can learn from the Father-Son relationship.
We also looked at culture, worldview, and the nature of expressing our faith in a way that engages the world around us – our experience with God’s missional sending heart should move us into transforming our world around us. If we just meet, our faith is broken, or as Volf says, simply ‘mystical’:
Christian faith malfunctions when it is practiced as a mystical religion in which ascent is followed by a barren rather than creative return, a return that has no positive results for the world.<Mirosolav Volf
Our theology (how we view God) should form our missiology (how we enter His pursuing heart). From there we figure out the most effective forms of ecclesiology (forms we gather in to accomplish God’s heart). Religion typically flips this completely backwards, as if the primary mission is to gather in some prescribed format instead of entering God’s sending heart.. I like this quote:
It is not that God has a mission for his church but that God has a church for his mission. The problem comes when mission becomes the exclusive domain of a few.
We enjoyed having Matt Coss from Visible College in Memphis here this week with his family. We had some wonderful times of open prayer, worship, and simply resting in the presence of our loving God. It was really nice, like previous weekends, to have some international folks with us, and contribute their giftings to our weekends. God truly does gift for the equipping of the saints, and supplies in really neat ways!
For some of the leaders, they are in seasons of making life decisions, marriage, career changes, even which country they will live in next. It was a blessing to sit, pray with, and just listen to their hearts and affirm the love and work of God in their lives. He is with us in the valleys, comforting us vicariously through the church, and surprising us with glimpses of His heart.
I loved seeing our kids really engaged this weekend – some other families also brought their kids, and from Carpathian weekend the families have begun connecting on deeper levels. Watching them all play, run around and just be kids – knowing memories are being built, and friendships forged even cross-culturally.
I don’t know what the future holds for our leadership weekends. I felt strongly to journey through this year with this core – and God has added random (seemingly) guests that have really helped to equip, and some new folks along the way. Is this a community that should be further developed, or is God calling us to something new for 2020? We have one more weekend planned this fall, perhaps two if the finances allow. I know they have been really meaningful for those who come, and for us too.
We closed by looking at the nature of the mystery of Jesus, God’s incarnation as the ‘riches’ we dive into, but never reach the bottom. This is what Colossians says when Paul tells us to ‘let the Word dwell in us richly’. He uses ‘logos’ here, the revelation of God on earth in Jesus – that this would fuel our hearts, live in us, enrapture us and motivate us. We often think just digesting scripture somehow magically transforms us – yet, the Word of God is a Person, and like the star was for the wise men, scripture points us to Jesus. In Him is life, our lives hidden in the coming of the Son of man! This is why Paul can say that he desires to know nothing but Jesus and the power of His resurrection – because there is fountain of reality, the coming, death and resurrection of the eternal Son, glorifying the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the culmination of God’s revealing of Himself, and as such, it is Jesus that is the glory of God!
What an incredible God we serve, sheer power in divested humility. Fuel us Lord with this rich reality.
We now have a week of cleaning, catching up, preparing for Canada trip. I am behind now on Fuller but wanted to document our weekend and learning. I love the depth of unity and grace evolving in our fellowship of believers, locally and among the Mir crew. The more we look to becoming a discerning, learning, transparent community in Jesus, the more healthy we become, and the more our missional activity is fueled by His Spirit and not our striving. Sustain us Jesus.