By Morgan Bush
Years ago, I received a charge from a man who was an elder in the Body of Christ in the city of Odessa, Texas. I had been the pastor of a church on the west side of Odessa, but had come into some theological differences with the congregation. As a result, at the time this brother was giving me his charge, I was in the process of resigning the pastorate. Knowing my situation, and understanding that I intended to continue the pursuit of my call despite this setback, the man gave me his charge. He told me to do nothing to build up the kingdoms of men, but work only to build up the Kingdom of God. I received his charge, and have been working to that end ever since. God has been gracious, and has allowed me to learn one or two useful things along the way.
What I have learned is that the Kingdom of God does not consist in books, electronic media, internet, blogs, conferences, apps, or any such thing. As Jesus told the religious leaders of his day, “. . . the Kingdom of God is within you.” God has so ordained things that his presence is seen only in and through his people. That’s you and me. And perversely, his presence seems to shine through almost exclusively in the intimacy of personal relationships. We host conferences because we want people to contact God, but God is best contacted not through conferences. Rather, we meet him through the thousands of unplanned and informal connections we make while at the conference. Sure, we may hear a few stirring words, and those words may even form the basis of an impromptu “breakout session,” but the lasting value comes from the connection and the sharing of life which occurs as a result of those connections.
I have been to my share of meetings and conferences. Perhaps not as high profile as Sentralized, or Verge, but the revelation and movement of the Spirit at the ones I have attended at least rivals, if not surpasses, those “big guns.” Yet believe me when I tell you, I get more (much more) from sitting around the table with a few fellow travelers than I ever have from listening to some heavy hitter. We get together, joke around, share a little food, and then get down to business. Kingdom business. We break the bread of life.
Each of us walks with the Lord individually. And the Lord speaks to us, individually. But what he says is not for us alone. What God says to me may be for me, but it is always me in the context of my participation in the Body of Christ. In fact, most of what God wants me to know and to have; he will not say or give to me directly. He will give it to another to give to me. In this way the corporate nature of Christ is both reinforced and perpetuated. I cannot make it on my own. I must participate in the life of Christ in others for me to get even the most basic nourishment I need. Finally, a circumstance in which it really does take a village!
I challenge you to try something in 2013. Put down the books, turn off the computer, silence the phone. Read the Bible. A paper one, if you dare. Journal about the insights the Lord gives you. Learn to hear the voice of God, and listen for his voice all through the day. Then (and this is the most important part), make it a point to get together with a small group of fellow travelers, and talk about what you have seen and heard in the Lord. Don’t bring an agenda, bring a story. Don’t come to speak, but to hear, and to share. Do this for as long as you like: a few days, a week, or more. See what happens!
About Morgan from Facebook: The unanswered questions are not nearly as dangerous as the unquestioned answers. Everyone knows you can find God in the Bible, in church, in Christian music. The one who truly knows God is able to find evidence of Him in places other than those; places others might not think to look. When you realize you have found Him in the stars, in the discipline of mathematics, in works of art, in the music of the heavens, in the cries of the lost, then you will have found the treasures of wisdom and knowledge He has hidden in the darkness.
Personal thought: Morgan and I met at the first church we attended in 2005 here in Burleson, Texas. My wife and I were in his Sunday School class. The whole time I knew he was different because he not only taught with great depth, but with the desire for inclusion. Like good Baptists we sat there and listened, yet I sensed that in his heart he wanted to hear about God’s movement in the hearts of those in the class. We’ve since left that church, but it wasn’t until a few years later that we reconnected via Facebook. I’m more than glad. He’s one of the original dudes who makes up The Table here in Burleson. I love this dude more than I can ever express. When we meet he keeps me on the edge of my seat with the insight the Spirit pours out through him. I’m grateful that he’s not only my dear friend, but my brother.
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