This is part 2 of David Westlake’s reflections on sustaining the Christian distinctiveness of Christian organisations. You can read part 1 here.
‘Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing’ John 15:5
The heart of all genuine Christian work is this relationship with, and dependency on the Lord Jesus. The glory of grace is that He invites us to join Him in His work and provides all that is necessary for fruitfulness. It is this deep abiding in Christ that shapes our identity, draws us into our calling and vocation and empowers us for effective service. To abide in Christ is not a separate ‘spiritual’ activity but means deep engagement with Christ and the world He loves with our hearts, minds, emotions and relationships.
Strengthening our abiding Christ as a community will be challenging but essential if we are to become:
- Agile and responsive without being merely opportunistic.
- We will need to know who we are and have a strong sense of purpose and calling
- This definition needs to be rooted in relationship with God and not just the needs of the world and requirements of donors
- Relational without losing integrity and purpose
- We need to be growing in the fruit of the spirit if we are to have healthy relationships
- We are dependent on the Holy Spirit to gift us with discernment, courage, grace and forgiveness to enable the formation and sustaining of healthy relationships
- Servant-hearted without becoming losing rigour and robustness
- Christ invites us into His story of voluntary slavery so that others might be free (Philippians 2). To live in this story demands living in all the power of His death and resurrection
- We need to abide in Christ if we are to speak truth with love, serve with authority and discern when we need to be visible as an organisation and when we need to ‘fall into the ground and die’ so that there may be greater fruitfulness and glory for God
- Connected to the grand story of God without becoming separated from the story of the world, supporters and beneficiaries
- Deep engagement with the divine narrative of creation, fall, redemption and future hope gives us a vital lens through which to understand the other stories that we encounter
- This deep engagement makes a dichotomy between ‘heaven and earth’ impossible as we understand and embrace the realities that our heavenly Father cares for all His children, loving God is impossible without loving the neighbour and God calls us to steward a creation of which we are a part. We are called to be ‘so heavenly minded that we can be of some earthy use’.
Visit the TILZ blog next week to read ‘Christ the centre: Part 3 – Abiding in Christ together.’