A great deal more failure is the result of excess caution than of bold experimentation with new ideas. The frontiers of the kingdom of God were never advanced by men and women of caution. – Oswald Chambers

I don’t know about you, but sometimes my own expression of Christian faith can be boring and domesticated- safe, predictable and routine. But as I read the scriptures I see a God that often advanced his cause on the backs of people that he entrusted to go out beyond the edges of their own sense of safety and comfort into a place of “uncertain trust.” “Uncertain trust”- what does that mean? Well just this- has your expression of Christian discipleship taken you to place recently were- “unless God comes through, your done.” This I think is how we are to live- banking on the provision of God- resting on his promises so their truth becomes our only hope. This is the heart of being a part of the mission of God- unless God does it- we wont make it. I have this picture of frightened disciples behind closed doors- still processing Jesus death and resurrection- then the Spirit comes- the wind comes and they throw caution to the wind. There is a job to be done- and if God is for us then who cares what comes against us. Lets recapture the adventure embedded in our faith because as CS Lewis said:

“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life or death.”

Grace and peace from Marcus

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters[a] loved by God, that he has chosen you. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4

Paul, Silas and Timothy wrote this letter to the church at Thessalonica. Some believe it was in fact the first book of the New Testament to be written. In it, we see both Paul and his for the Thessalonians and the strong and fruitful response among the Thessalonians to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here Paul begins the letter with a greeting and a prayer. He knows that the Thessalonian churches have faced heavy opposition and are suffering for their faith and he commends them in his prayer for their faith, their love and their hope. These three realities have been part and parcel of their response to the gospel and the way they live their lives and he knows them to be right at the heart of God’s will for his people. Paul will mention them again- in 1 Corinthians and Colossians, suggesting that he thinks they are of great significance in the life of the disciples. He sees that each of these three have practical significance as faith promoted work, love promoted hard labour, hope enabled them to endure hardship. All that to say – that God wants us to be a people of faith, hope and love. May the life of Jesus produce these in us.

Grace and peace from Marcus

 

In John’s first letter- he marvels at the love that God has for us in Christ. 1 John 3:1 is the high watermark of the revelation of God’s love by John- he says; “See what great love the father lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” God’s love for him and indeed for every believer is almost overwhelming for John. He is it seems, delighted by it. But it should be noted that John is keen that the experience of that love is not something that he dams up- or anticipates believers hoarding to themselves. Far from it- his hope is that that love will overflow into the lives of others. He puts this notion succinctly when he says- “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another. John believes deeply in the notion that any love received from God in the life of the believer is to passed on and given away, in practical and tangible ways. It’s as if the fullness of God’s love empowers those in Christ to love others and for John that has practical implications. So he says- again in chapter 3, “dear children, let us not love with Words or tongue but in actions and in truth.” So all that to say, lets marvel at and delight in the love God has for us- and out of that let’s love those around us like he loves us.

Grace and peace from Marcus

“Go therefore to every ethnic group and help them become my apprentices.”

The assumption of Jesus early program for his people on earth was that they would live their lives as his students and co-labourers. They would find him so admirable in every respect- wise, beautiful, powerful and good- that they would seek to be in his presence and be guided, instructed and helped by him in every aspect of their lives. He is the living head of the community of prayerful love across all time and space. On that assumption, his promises to his people were that he would be with them in every moment. More generally, the provisions that he made for his people during this period in which we now live are provisions for those who are precisely apprentices to him in kingdom living.

The effect of continuous study under Jesus would naturally be to learn how to do everything we do in the name of Jesus (Col. 3:17); that is, on his behalf or in his place; that is, once again as if he himself were doing it. And of course, that means we will learn to conform to “everything I have commanded you (Matt. 28:20). In his presence our inner life will be transformed, and we will become the kind of people for whom his course of action is the natural and supernatural course of action. Plainly in the eyes of Jesus there is no good reason for not doing what he said to do, for he only tells us to do what is best.

Grace and peace from Marcus
Taken from the Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Williard

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5)

Transformation and thought are very closely related in the New Testament. Our minds are the seedbeds of our behaviour. This is important and this is why the Christian church has always valued teaching because we recognise that the mind matters. But the kind of mind that we are shooting for, as those in Christ, is the mind of the Spirit. That is a mind soaked in the heart and the reality of the Spirit of God. The passage above gives us one aspect of what a Spirit filled mind looks like. So what does it look like?

Well the Spirit soaked mind is drenched in the self-effacing love that was supremely demonstrated in Christ. It’s the mindset that is not just about me, me, me, but it is always asking how am I living out the new commandment (John 13:34-35) that Jesus gave in my relationships with others. Paul in Philippi was writing to a church he loved and he knew that there was some conflict. Euodia and Syntyche were two women in the church who seemed to have been in some disagreement and Paul summons them to have the same mind in the Lord. What mind? To have the mind of the Spirit, of Christ, this is the mind of self-effacing sacrificial love. May the mind of the Spirit govern us as believers.

Grace and peace from Marcus