03 October 2012

Surprises open us to change

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Here is a second set of answers to some questions about how Papa is dealing with his people in our generation. You might like to consider your own answers which may be quite different from mine. See what you think.

Full of surprisesThis is part two of of a series in which I'm sharing my answers to some questions posted on the 'Missional Challenge' blog. See the first part for the background.

Here are the next three questions, then we'll work through them one at a time.

  • How is God coming to this generation?
  • How is that different than any other generation?
  • Are you under God’s authority? How do you know?

How is God coming to this generation? - That is a huge question, and the answers we find are going to be game changing. If we get this wrong we will constantly struggle because we'll be working against the grain of everything he is doing. If we get it right we will be in tune with his purpose and swept along effortlessly by the wide, deep river of living water.

Also, it would be foolish to think we will all hear the same thing from him. It's entirely possible I might be right for myself but wrong for you. Caveat emptor! It's also possible I might be wrong for you and wrong for myself.

But here's my best effort to express the way I see this right now. I think he's coming to this generation in ways far outside our normal expectations. He is blessing people from every kind of church background - whether you're Catholic or Orthodox, Baptist or Anglican, Messianic Jew or Lutheran. I'd go further. He's blessing Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons and Christian Scientists. He's blessing Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, even Agnostics and Atheists. His heart is always to bless and the Holy Spirit needs only the tiniest crack of obedience to begin his work.

I just don't think we can overestimate his grace and willingness to overlook error. Let's face it, if he didn't come to find lost sheep, we would all be permanently... well, lost!

We'd better begin to expect the unexpected, because he is always full of surprises. That is how he is coming to this generation.

How is that different than any other generation? - I don't think it is. He's always surprised us. He surprised Abraham and Sarah with Isaac. (He surprised Abraham with Isaac twice. Think about it). He surprised Jacob's sons with Joseph. He surprised Jacob with a dislocated hip, Moses with a burning bush, a divided sea, manna and quails. He surprised Saul with David and Solomon with wisdom... Need I go on? He surprised Saul on the way to Damascus. We should never be surprised to be surprised!

All of that means that any rules I come up, methods, structures, hierarchies may at best be rendered inappropriate by the next surprise to come my way. And at worst they were already inappropriate. Nothing I plan or design or set in motion is of any real kingdom value. Only the things that the Father, Son and Spirit plan, design and set in motion are of real use. Doing it my way can only make things worse.

I think the church at large has so far failed to grasp this simple but fundamental truth. To that extent, how he is coming to this generation may be different. I have the sense that he's sowing the seeds of this understanding in the hearts of people here and there, and that the growth these seeds produce will change much in the way we are and in what we do (and don't do).

Sometimes we think in terms of modernism, post-modernism and so forth. I dare say Papa deals with us differently according to our thinking and culture, but what I wrote above remains true. He will always find ways to surprise us. I think he likes to catch us off guard. Perhaps he can better reach us when we're a little off balance.

Are you under God’s authority? How do you know? - Sometimes, yes. Often, no. I have the opportunity to be under his authority at all times. But sometimes I allow myself to fall under the authority of others, or worse I seize the reins myself. I think I'm (very gradually) getting better at it. I sense that I notice more quickly when I do come off the rails. I'm more aware of the dangers and more eager to avoid them.

When I'm in the right place I'm usually aware of it - he shows me things - he speaks with me - I can walk in silence with him - there is a deep peace in my heart - I'm untroubled by problems and issues.

But I'm rarely (if ever) aware of the many times I do it my way. Sometimes I spend days, weeks or months, even years struggling along before it dawns on me that I'm alone. He's still at the centre of his purpose, I've wandered off on some side-mission of my own devising. When I do realise my mistake it's most often because I suddenly realise he's not there. I don't mean he abandons me, but he's far off because I've abandoned him. I think he comes to find me and I think 'Why am I struggling with this when the King is here?'

I hope this answers the 'how do I know' question as well.

Were these the sort of answers you expected to read? If not, why not?

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