Daring Greatly through spirituality... with the courage to step outside the box
Rupert Lazar writes:
Imagine with me a people vibrant in their worship; passionate in their love for our Lord Jesus; enthusiastic in their service and confident in the Word of God! Impossible or asking too much? I don’t think so! That for me, my friends, I believe is how God intended his church to be.
Lately, I have been reflecting on the apostle Paul’s words to Timothy reminding him of the fact that God had given him a gift for the building of the church and that he was to keep it alive. So in 2 Tim.1:6-7 we read “...I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you .... for God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self-discipline”. Elsewhere, in fact in his letter to the church in Corinth the same apostle makes it clear that God give all Christians gifts for the building up of the church, the body of Christ (12:4ff).
I have to admit that I am concerned that too many of us Christians (may I say Baptists?) have become too fearful, indeed too timid. We feel powerless to make a change; we act too unloving and skirt around discipline whether it is self or otherwise. And yet Paul is clear that God’s gifts are given that we may be strong, loving and self-controlled!
As I think outside of the box, I wonder if our President is not being prophetic in calling us to dare greatly and recapture the truth of who God has declared us to be. God has called us to himself, he has invested of himself in us and His Spirit merges with our spirit making us a new creation. God through his Spirit has given us gifts that we may carry out our assignment as Christians to be a blessing to all people – a covenant first made with Abram (Genesis 12) and which was renewed in Jesus Christ who went around blessing all who came to him, ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Friends, the more I think of it the more I become convinced that we are not sufficiently vibrant, or passionate or enthusiastic or confident because we either have a distorted understanding or we have lost all understanding of our identity in Christ. I wonder if we have become so much a people of the Word that we have lost the fact that God always intended us to equally be a people of the Spirit.
Christian friend, you are a child of God, you belong to his family and you are made in his image! We are adopted into this family and our brother Jesus has shown us how to live by faith, in the power of the Spirit, to please the Father. Furthermore, Jesus said that all that he did we could do too – hear again his words as recorded for us in Scripture, John 14:12, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father”. Then Jesus went on to talk about sending the Holy Spirit!
Jesus is the example and we follow him. I ask you, who is more vibrant; who is more passionate; who is more enthusiastic and who is more confident than Jesus?! For me it is entirely possible to be so much more than we currently are when we truly embrace the truth of who God has made us to be and declared us to be.
Christians, it is time to stop being afraid. It is time to stand firmly and confidently upon God’s word. It is time to push through our traditional stiff upper lip and express ourselves in vibrant worship as so often our beloved Psalms call us to do. It is time to express our love in active service for love un-expressed is not love. Scripture is clear that God so loved that he gave his Son – love expressed in action! It is time to be a people of Word and Spirit with the Spirit guiding us and producing his fruit in us.
Our churches are to be places where the gifts of the Spirit which we all have, are used for “the common good” (1Cor.12:7). And wherever we go we are to be means of blessing, remembering that we carry God’s Spirit who works with and on our spirit so that we are no longer timid but powerful, loving and self-controlled.
Now tell me, am I thinking out of the box or just reminding us of who God made us to be? Sisters, brothers, let’s go for it – I dare you!
The Revd Rupert Lazar, minister of East Barnet Baptist Church, is Vice-President of our Baptist Union