I have seen again today how important it is to step out of your normal world and engage with others.
Missiologist Ralph Winter identified two structures within the body of Christ, the mission group and the local church. Mission groups come in all shapes and sizes. In many ways a mums group is a mission group, and so is a business breakfast and so is an artists colony and so is an organisation like Fusion.
Most of us find our way into a mission group of some sort or other and the fellowship in them is great, and so is the sense that we are doing something important. They have a drawback though: people think like us.
I think I have seen in a fresh way what the local church is meant to be. It is meant to be a kaleidoscope of ages and backgrounds, competencies and gifts.
It is meant to be a place where a high level business person rubs shoulders with a lonely grandmother, where the gifted artist meets the mischievous three-year old. We need people who are different to us for two reasons:
- They remind us that we are not the centre of the universe and the world we live in is not the whole word
- As I really see the worlds of others, I am confronted with the deficits in my own life. I see myself more clearly.
There is something important about hanging out with people who are not like you, but it’s not easy. I’m pretty sure this is why Jesus commanded us in John 13:34-35
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Loving people who think like you is one thing, but loving people who are totally different is something else all together. Perhaps that’s why Jesus saw our love for one another as such a powerful statement that it would be our main form of evangelism.
One of the dangers is that our churches gradually become segregated. That is a trend we need to fight against if we want to truly be the body of Christ.
I was reminded of all of this today as we were each given a canvas to draw on in some way to depict the nature of our ministry. When we finished we discovered that our canvasses came together to create one beautiful, colorful, challenging and confronting picture….. just the way it’s meant to be.