Thursday, June 11, 2009

An urgent invitation

The last couple of days I have been meditating on John 1:41 and 42. In this text, Andrew finds Simon, explains what he has found, and brings him to Jesus. A closer look at the greek text reveals some interesting truths.

The first word is the use of the word "first". Different greek texts have different forms of the word that give some subtle perspectives. The most likely fit is that of an urgent connection with his brother. It is the superlative form of 'before', meaning 'before anything else' he went and found his brother. The implication is one of need and desire to share what he has found. Another ending would suggest the Andrew went first implying that John then went to get James. It is appearent from the rest of the text that both brothers went to get their siblings.

The second nuance is the selection of the word for found. It carries the meaning of 'searching', something more than a simple 'run and get Simon'. It carries the picture of someone who really wanted to find his brother.

The last word of interest is the 'brought' him to Jesus. This word is the one that would be used to lead an animal, pulling it along. Implied could be the idea that there was some resistance on the part of Simon. It clearly wasn't the image of Peter after the road to Emmaus running back to tell the others. It is the image of someone who needed to be brought along.

So what does all of this have to do with today's church? I think we need to somehow recapture this urgency in introducing people to Jesus. One thing that I think that ione thing that inhibits people is that we view the Kingdom as a harvest rather than the sowing. We think somehow we need to get people saved. I don't see that in any of the texts. What I see is a call to bring people to Jesus and make the introduction. What if we could see ourselves as people who bring others to a friend? Could we capture this same passion that was experienced by Andrew? How could we see this happen?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Importance of a Brother

Key to the story of Peter is the role of his brother Andrew. In this post, I would like to look at the steps of Andrew that lead to Peter. It is clear from the John text that Andrew was present for Christ's baptism, but he did not fully understand what had happened. He and John spend the night probably talking about the events of the day and God uses this to prepare their hearts.

The next morning they are again with John the Baptist and Christ passes. John points them to Him and they immediately follow Jesus. Jesus hears them behind and asks the question most frequently posed by Christ: "What do you want?" They simple ask where he is staying. As a visitor they know He is likely at an inn where they could serve Him. They spend one night with Jesus and their lives are forever changed. The next morning Andrew knows he has to go find his brother and bring him to Jesus.

A couple observations that have been bouncing around in my heart that relate directly to the role of the church. The first one is the question of Jesus. Although He know exactly what they wanted and needed, He began with that simple question. Do I do this in my interaction with those around me? Do I ask them simply what they want? Often this lead to a miracle in the life of the person. What might it look like if our churches simply ask those around us what they wanted and then delivered. We so often begin with our agenda rather than their agenda. What if we became disciplined in begnning with their agenda? It certainly would make the Good News become good news!!

The second thought that has been running around is the important role of Andrew and John as believers. While their brothers were not yet believers, they were actively pursuing their relationship with Christ. We too need first to be Christ followers. Their passion for Christ openned the door for others. Am I still deeply in love with Christ as I was at the beginning? Has faith become routine or do I still enjoy being in the presence of the God of surprises? Do I have something in my life that I just need to share with others? I was talking yesterday with a person at our church here in France that was facing a difficult divorse as I left. It was a very painful time. Today, he and his new wife have a very effective and impacting minsitry to singles coming through divorse. He said this to me "God is very much at work, but each time a new person comes I relive my pain." This discussion really make me think to what degree I allow my past expereinces of God's presence and deliverence to impact the lives of others.

So how do you respond? What could this kind of church life look like? How can we once again become as passionate as Andrew and John?

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Man of Peace

There is a concept from the Church Planting Movement whereby one looks for the "the man of peace." This concept comes from the sending of the disciples out two-by-two. When I first learned of it a couple of months past, it fascinated me. In contemplating what was to powerful as to move Peter so deeply, I started with his background.

Our first glimpse of his family comes from John 1:19 and following. Here John the Baptist baptizes in the Jordon leading to the baptism of Christ. John is in the crossing town of Bethany (Bethabara) and many of Israel are coming to him. Some theologians suggest that this was the sabbatical year giving the men of Israel the freedom to travel and come to John.
It is in this context that we find Andrew and Peter, and John and James in Bethany. Andrew and John had spent enough time that they were now referred to as disciples of John the Baptist.

So, you might ask, what does this have to do with “the man of peace”? As I have spent the last week meditating on these texts, it appears to me that Peter was such a man. He clearly had come with his brother Andrew to see the Baptist, and likely was on some kind of spiritual walk that made him open to the voice of God.

If this is the beginning of Peter’s story, what might this say to us and our local gatherings? I was reminded recently by one of our missionaries of the importance of targeting our efforts so as to be wise stewards. Could this passage be challenging us to become more attuned to those who are already on a spiritual journey? Could we have much greater impact in people’s lives if we were sensitive to their walk? Do people notice the difference in our lives and come to see, but unlike John the Baptist, we don’t see their searching?

How have you seen God send into your life people who are looking for God? What might this kind of outreach look like in the day-to-day life of a church? What might attract people on the journey to us? Do we see God’s work in the lives of those around us?

In the life of Peter, the answer to these questions had a profound impact upon him, as John the Baptist, Andrew and John all had a part in the life-changing first meeting with Jesus. That story and its implications will be the topic of my next step in my journey.