On Sunday in our Central Gathering we talked about God’s Call. We had fun identifying together the Purposes and Promises God gives to those he calls, and the purposes and promises he has for us. If you want to, you can listen to the sermon here: http://wp.me/p4E7sz-I3
This week I’ve been thinking about those things some more, and reflecting on Paul’s declaration to the Philippians:
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14 NIV)
Paul is running for a prize. What is it? It is purpose and promise; it is nothing less than everything God has for him. Running for this requires perseverance: Paul forgets what is behind and presses on.
One way of thinking about our MSCs is as communities that have formed around running after a particular prize. There are purposes and promises God has given to each one that we are called to persevere as we run towards those things. Do you have a sense of the prize God has for your community?
We must persevere through many things. I’ve become increasingly aware, however, of one area that can stop us even before we started running. That is preference. Our choice.
We all bring sets of ideas about what church should be like, about how far we are willing to go for God, about the kind of life we want, about the way we want people to think of us. These preferences influence what we say yes to and what we say no to, what gatherings we choose to go to, which opportunities we respond to, how we react to people of peace and so many other aspects of our discipleship. Often they operate on an unconscious level – we don’t think they are unusual because we’ve lived with them for a long time. I think God wants to work on these preference.
Paul counted his preferences as nothing, he set them aside to strain towards the prize. I think we need to get more used to doing the same thing. As leaders this means making hard decisions for ourselves, but we also need to help others in our MSCs do the same. Often this is done by creating opportunities where personal preferences will need to be exposed, acknowledged and worked through.
Do you have a sense of God’s purposes and promises for your MSC?
Can you see where preference – yours or other people’s in your MSC might be holding people back from perseverance?