Carrying burdens, Church, community of grace

Playing Our Part.

There is an African Proverb that says “It takes a village to raise a child”.

The idea of a collective responsibility for raising the next generation, rather than leaving it simply up to (a) struggling parent(s).

Right at the beginning of time  (Gen. 4), Cain asked of the Lord “Am I my brothers keeper?” (as he’d just murdered Able) -the answer God gave him is “yes”.

The selfish and individualistic worldview of “I’m alright Jack” that doesn’t care about those around us, might be prevalent within our culture, but is diametrically opposed to the Kingdom of God.

We were not created as human-beings to be ‘independent’ but rather ‘interdependent’, we need each other and are needed by each other.

We have collective responsibility for one another for each others growth in faith.

We have an investment together in the Kingdom.

The Christian faith is a corporate one, we do not exist in isolation, but rather our strength comes from our unity, we are greater together than we are on our own.

Paul uses the image of a body as an image to describe the Church, where everything is in its place, and everything, even the smallest part, is useful. I remember a Church leader I knew once saying “the body of Christ has no appendix” -in other words, no part that we can do without. An when people ‘opt out’ or ‘take a back seat’ the body of Christ is diminished.

Yet, that is not how we behave often as Churches.

Another Vicar friend once said “it is easier to get someone to preach in the Pulpit than to clean it!”

Or as Shane Claiborne said: “Everyone wants revolution but no one does the dishes”.

Yet service is at the heart of being a Christian, who are called to “serve one another”, following the example of Christ, “who took a towel and washed his disciples feet”.

So often we have Churches that burn out their Pastors, yet people who wont roll up their sleeves and serve, and even less likely get to on their knees to pray.

I was at a PCC meeting on Sunday Night talking about a new leader, and I bit my lip, an although we need a new Vicar or new leader, we need just as much to be a body of believers to partner with them in prayer and service in obedience to Christ’s call and command.

These thoughts went through my head as I sat on my own in Chasers Lounge for a inter-church meeting where no-one turned up.

Someone reading this might say “people can’t manage day time prayer meetings” (despite mainly being a retired congregation) but we have also been holding inter-church prayer and worship evenings and yet only had 11 people came.

Is there really only 11 Christians who think praying together for God’s Kingdom to come is really a worthwhile activity?

I long to see revival come to this area, but I realise that historically before every great move of the Spirit the Saints have gathered to pray.

We each of us need to take responsibility for our own faithfulness to the Kingdom call (and it probably calls us to a place of sacrifice). On Saturday, I went to an early morning prayer meeting (and I’m rubbish in the mornings and was exhausted, and had to do some driving backwards and forwards with the car, it would have been easier not to go, but I am so glad I went, I realised I can’t out give Christ).

A challenge for us all personal to take responsibility to be faithful, it’s your job, not someone else’s (here is a story I found helpful).

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.  There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.

If we really want God to move in our area, perhaps we need to sacrifice our comfort and adjust out priorities? Perhaps God is calling us to place prayer and service back (and higher) onto the corporate agenda of Church and Churches Together?

If we want to see the Kingdom come in our area then God himself tells us clearly what we need to do:

“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” -2 Chronicles 7:14.

So, let’s humble ourselves (we don’t serve because we think we are too grand or important to lug tables around or wash up, service is a great antidote to the sin of pride). Let us pray, let us seek his face? Let’s turn from our wicked ways (and make no mistake apathy is I believe “a wicked way” -for (as Edmund Burke reminds us) for evil to prosper all it takes is for “good people to do nothing”.  In fact the prophet Samuel describes a failure to pray as sin.

So, a challenge for us all to repent of apathy and complacency, a call to hear Christ’s call to serve, and be faithful in our call to pray… and as we do this and seek together the face and presence of Christ we will see the advance of Christ’s Kingdom here in Kingswood as it is in Heaven.

So, let’s pray together.

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