Exactly where you are right now
Every single one of us has a place and a purpose. No matter our age, work situation, life stage, marital status, education, or skill set, we all live somewhere.
Certainly, many of us are look back wondering how and why we have ended up where we currently are, and many of us look ahead and wonder what our future holds, but regardless of how we feel about things, we all start each day from exactly where we finished yesterday. We all find ourselves somewhere.
This is as true for us as individuals as it for us as families, and as groups, and even as nations. We can’t escape the reality of our present context. Even if we want to see things change, we have to start from where we are.
This may well be frustrating for us right now but given that it is simply the way things are perhaps it might help us if we adopted a posture of availability towards God and his purposes, asking, and even expecting, him to make the most of the situation we find ourselves in.
Everyone open to being used by God every day
As I look ahead and imagine the future of St Mary’s in all our rich diversity, I am excited by the prospect of seeing God use us in a thousand ways as each of us simply allow ourselves to be used by him on a daily basis.
It’s vital you know that I don’t have a single grand top-down vision of how this will turn out – indeed I think it would be crazy for me, or anyone else, to try to draw up such a plan or to bring one about. Any such plan would, I believe, be way too limiting. Rather, I see us being most fruitful and truly energised when each of us simply knows the truth that our lives matter to God and that he can, and will, use us to express his character and will through our daily lives, no matter where we find ourselves, if we’d only let him.
Living as if the last sentence is actually true has the potential to totally revolutionise our lives and I believe it is a central part of the message that Jesus came to bring.
Every one of us is different and every one of us has a different sphere of influence that God wants to use. We all have a place and a purpose in God’s economy and kingdom and the great thing is, we don’t have to go anywhere to find it – we simply start with where we are.
A world in need
All of us know, that we are frail, vulnerable and sinful human beings. That’s the definition of being human. ‘We are only human’, we find ourselves saying, in recognition of this key truth. But God’s story doesn’t end there. The good news is that he is able to make something of us despite ourselves. His kingdom is at hand. In fact, it starts right where we are.
Just as we know that we are messed up and broken, we know people and situations around us that are messed up and broken too. Some disastrously so. Some more hidden. But right now, around us and right up close to us, there are a thousand places where things are out of kilter with God’s purposes. Everywhere we look, there is a world in need.
Our first job, as followers of Jesus, is simply to recognise these needs and to believe that God might want to use us to bring his life and restoration to them, even if we currently have no idea what exactly that might mean.
Everyone on mission
One of the biggest problems we face as a church is understanding that each and every one of us matters and that each and every one of us has been called to participate in God’s kingdom project. Way, way too many of us feel that we are incapable or unworthy of this simple calling. And so, we simply get on with our lives and miss out on the joy of being used by God and discovering our core purpose and meaning.
Let me put it as simply as I can.
If you are reading this right now, God wants you on his team and he has a role for you to play. And he simply wants you to reach out to the world in need that is right in front of you, whatever age, life stage or situation you find yourself in.
Don’t go anywhere. Just look around you. Ask God to open your eyes to someone or something that is out of sorts with his good purposes and ask him to lead you in working out what might be the best next step for you to take in his name.
Imagine if we all did this. Imagine if all of us simply did this one thing. Imagine what that might mean, what might happen, what God might do through us?
Joining in with Jesus on his mission
God loves us all so much that he sent his one and only son, Jesus, to us. This is the truth of that most familiar of verses. But we must also note that it was for the joy set before him of seeing our lives and families changed by God’s power and love, that motivated Jesus to submit to his Father’s will. He came to give us life – God’s life – an eternal life. What a pleasure it would be for him to do this.
In response to this desire and in line with his compassion Jesus left his place at his Father’s right hand so that he could touch our lives, get involved in the mess and the complexity of our self-made chaos, and to call us, one by one, into relationship with him, as his disciples. That was his mission. Pure and simple.
And just as the Father sent the Son, so the Son sends us – his apprentices. Our mission is the same as his – to go and make disciples, reaching out to a world in need and drawing others into the adventure of life with God that we have been given. Freely we have received. Freely we give.
As for Jesus, so for us
Before we get into the details of what this might mean for us, as individuals and for us as St Mary’s, it is important that we get the point.
Behind everything that Jesus did was a God-shaped desire to reach out to a world in need – in need of forgiveness, of healing, of salvation, of renewal. Motivated by the purest of self-giving love Jesus came to draw people to himself and to invite them into his Kingdom.
Our task is the same. And, for the most part, we simply start with the people around us. Every single one of us has a place and a purpose. No matter our age, work situation, life stage, marital status, education, or skill set, we all live somewhere and our first task, if we are committed to Jesus and his mission, is to take note of the people and needs around us and to ask God to help us discern how he could use right where we are. In hospital, in work, in our school or college, on the bus, in the sports team, in our street.
God’s strategy was to send Jesus.
Jesus’ strategy is to send us.
In the next post I will say a bit more about that this might mean for us as a church community.