Infinitum

Some of my Salvo friends have been kick-starting a bit of a discipleship movement.  Gotta love those crazy guys – I miss the good ones like mad.  This thing isn’t limited to the Army, they want to bust it out all over.

These guys and gals commit around

One Vision – to follow Jesus. Asking Jesus that you would do that authentically throughout the day

Two Virtues – love and love.  Thanking God for his love for you and asking for his help to love him and others in the same way

Three Vows – Surrender, Mission and Generosity. Thinking through how you might be empowered by Jesus to live in a distinctive way.

Its not something you join, its not an ‘organisation’, but an invitation to an intentional way of life in community with others.  It borrows from the essence of new monasticism, good discipleship models, and all the other good stuff that is seeking to equip the church from the grass roots.  Monasticism as a thing always came along when the church needed renewal as a grass roots, radical thing to infuse the church with Jesus-shaped disciples.  Infinitum looks much like the same.  Its time has probably come, alongside all the other stuff people are doing around the place of this nature.  People are tired of business as usual, and aren’t content to stop at churchianity with regards their spiritual lives.

I’m sorta out of the loop at the moment.  I’m not actively engaged in an ongoing discipling relationship with anyone mainly due to our geography shift a year ago, nor is there anyone helping ‘keep the edges hot’ with regards my daily journey with Jesus.  This is bad, and I probably need it more now than ever.

I reckon the kind of vision they set out is what I actively need.  To that end, I’m thinking I need to form me/us a hub.  Not necessarily a local face-to-face hub, but a wee group of folks who will agree to check in through social media or something.

The website is here:  http://infinitumlife.com  It’s full of resources to spark life in the thing.

Here is Phil talking in a video: https://vimeo.com/169836046/76c863a18f

Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/infinitumwayoflife

Up for a regular online connection?  Email me at andrew@andrewmclark.org

 

 

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Jesus?

In our life of following Jesus, we never ‘graduate’ from him.  Its not that Jesus is the first base of learning, after which we move on to other things.  There are depths to him, especially to his identification as the ‘Christ’, that we’ll never be done fathoming, expounding and exploring, let alone exploring who is he is relation to the Trinity.   This year I’ve been following Jesus for 21 years, a mere blip in the time-frame of eternity, but long enough to know for sure that there is so much more to know, experience and grasp!

Yet, there are things that we can know.  There are things following him invites us to do and to be.  If we’re part of a church, we’re primarily about being the community of Jesus…in theory.  Perhaps, in practice, we’re not much like him at all.  Perhaps in places he’s the head of the church in as much as the Queen is the head of the UK government…in place with titles, image and on paper, but when it comes to the day to day there isn’t much he gets to do.  His teaching is filtered through our cultural prejudices and perspectives, our agendas, wether liberal or conservative, and he’s made to say things he’d perhaps never say himself.

This morning I found myself worrying about Jesus!  Does he get a look in?  Is he being taken seriously?  Are we engaging not only with the stuff we don’t understand, but with the things we do, which are way more frightening? (Love your enemies, anyone?)

I’ve gradually learned, with many things in life, that its useless ruminating about things and instead to consider how I can act on the challenges I see around me.  I believe that the church’s problem isn’t so much about relevance, or being modern, or being user friendly, or any such thing.  I think it hangs around our unfamiliarity and distance from Jesus, our lack of exploration of what it means to be ‘in Christ’ and how we function as a Jesus community.

It is, as Alan Hirsch says, a season of time when the church would very much benefit from ‘re-Jesusing’ – keeping the life of our founder, inspiration and living accompanier at the very centre of who we are as individuals and as communities.

How might we do that?
1.  Spend some time in the gospels, maybe even more so than the rest of the bible for a season.  Take time to get familiar with what we see him doing and hear him saying, as reported by the gospel writers.  Take the four together.  What does each bring out?  How does it translate into life, worship and witness?

2.  Take time to listen to the Holy Spirit.  Ask him to communicate Jesus to you.  Ask for some insight on something you’ve yet to understand and take to heart.

3.  Talk to other people about how they have understood Jesus.  Together, we are the body of Christ each expressing together something of his life.  See what you can learn.

4.  Read.  See what others are saying about him – there is plenty around.  Listen for the agendas, the worldview that is speaking.  Read outside your own tradition (i.e., if your Protestant, read Catholic or Orthodox etc).  Read some of the historical stuff, some of the academic stuff if you feel you can access it.

5.  Look for him in the world.  In the patterns of the seasons, death and resurrection.  In the faces of the children, the peacemakers, the poor, the marginalised.  Enact some of his instructions in real life and find the echoes of his life in yours.

You may have your own ideas, thats great.

Let’s not commit the error of ‘graduating from Jesus’ as if we know better.  Don’t leave him in the Sunday school with the children.  Don’t let his voice get lost in the clamour of our customs and ways.  Pare things back for a season that he might be heard, seen and known.

Spiritual Check-up

Doesn’t do any harm to undertake a bit of a spiritual review from time to time.  It’s something that has been well over due for me, seeing as I’m still trying to find a new spiritual director after having moved south last year.  It is so easy to get out of the pattern or habit of somethings, especially when life takes over.  I’ve found over the years that if I’m not paying attention to my spiritual life then I simply ‘fall asleep’ and thats when things get out of kilter, the focus is lost, and the vibrancy goes.

A few things have arisen for me recently, in a variety of ways, which will inevitably have to become areas of focus in the months ahead.

The first is my relationship with those biblical language might call ‘the poor’, although its not necessarily language we would use today.  By that, I mean my attention to ensuring I am doing what I can to carry my brothers and sisters in the world during their times of need.  I had a dream a few nights ago.  I was carrying an emaciated man, skin and bone.  He was a different ethnicity to me, and I didn’t see his face, but I carried him a long distance until we reached a place where he was taken in and ministered to.  I am not sure where all the details or experiences came for that dream to occur, but I woke knowing that I wasn’t currently engaged in any sort of work to actively support, advocate or work for the alleviation of circumstances of folks in challenging times.  So, I need to pay attention to that.

Secondly, I have become aware that I’ve been getting less and less time for quiet, reflection, prayer and the like.  And by that i don’t just mean firing up a quick request, rather, I mean time deliberately set aside to rest in God’s presence, to listen deeply to Him and to what is going on in me.  My weeks do have an almost daily journaling practise, which is helpful, but not the full picture.  I’ve come to know how valuable having time aside is, and ministry certainly can’t be sustained without it…inspiration and energy doesn’t just come from nowhere, as far as this work is concerned.  There is a need to drink deeply in order to support others to do the same.

Finally, I’m listening more and more to my body.  It no secret its been a bit neglected over the years, especially after years of comfort eating in seeking to cope through depressive episodes etc, and through lacking the energy, emotionally and physically, to do anything about it in the midst of challenges with mental health.  Needless to say, you can’t just take your body for granted.  Thankfully, my health is in a significantly better place, and so its time to work at gently undoing some stuff!  Its easy to fall into the trap of separation emotional, spiritual and physical wellbeing but they are all so closely linked.

There are other things arising, which I may speak about another time.  But what about you?  Do you take time to ask ‘how am I doing?’, ‘what is my experience of life, right now?’, ‘are there areas that are our of balance?’, ‘how can I reconnect myself and wake up to all God has for me?’  I recommend it.

Not all the people bite…

si-40-2-race-2I find people fascinating.  One of the things I love doing is travelling into London, where it seems like people from every tribe, nation and language have gathered to live together, alongside hoards of visitors from other places around the world.  Its fascinating watching them and I’m reminded from the visions painted in scripture that the ultimate expression of multiculturalism will be around the throne of God in the New Heaven and Earth.

So, if we’re in the business of praying and moving history towards God’s perfect future, we want to be praying ‘your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in Heaven’ as well as enacting it, making it happen, seeing it come to fruition.

We live in divisive days where increasing wedges are filtering between people, where were being encouraged to be afraid of difference and diversity.

I have no control over the world, over anyone else, but I can choose my own attitude and responses.  For me, a journey to the capital is a great opportunity to drink in the amazing faces, cultures, characteristics and stories of other people, whether from these islands or further afield.  I’m not a Londoner, so don’t have the genetic predisposition to staring at my feet on the underground….no, I’m making eye contact all over the place….a smile here, a nod there.  We’re all human under our clothes, and we all have the same needs of love, security, peace of mind and all the rest.

In a world that seeks to divide, I think the only appropriate Kingdom response is to live in the opposite spirit:  create community, break down walls, trust instead of fear, smile and think the best of people.  Worth a go, I think.si-40-2-race-2