“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.”
During our first days in Cape Town, while Dieter and I were considering the task ahead of us (i.e., charting a fresh course for freeWord), an image came into my mind.
It is an image fitting for the development of freeWord in the context of Southern Africa, for the necessary transitions that are upon the fellowship in Minneapolis and beyond, and, I think, for all Christians at all times.
As there may still be lack of understanding (or even misunderstanding) of what precisely freeWord is, allow me to frame it briefly. In short, freeWord might be distilled as that which happens while gathering together around the foundational and transformational Word of God that we might prayerfully live Word-shaped lives engaged in and moved for the mission of God. It is nothing new, really – simply the Spirit-led life together in, under, and on the Word. It looks a lot like the meeting of Church and Kingdom.
This is the picture that came to my mind: Regarding sub-Saharan Africa, though past missionaries have spoken the word of Truth, they have also allowed the building of a “home” unsuitable, in many ways, for the African. There now must come a deconstruction and renovation – the building of a home (ever upon the sure foundation of God’s Word) that might be suitable for the current needs of Africa.
In the same way, the church and institutions of the West (WMPL included), must be rebuilt for the changing tides of time. The shape and function of our fellowship must be hewn from a vision that might rise to meet the needs surrounding us today.
This life together in Christ is most certainly needed the world ’round. Church bodies, mission agencies, and other institutions have, in obedience to the Word of Christ, built such great and grand structures upon the foundation of Christ, which have indeed throughout time, served as outposts of heaven amidst the heavy gales of a fallen world. These “homes” we’ve built have been a center from which we disperse, engaging the world about us, and as a refuge to which we retreat in times of turmoil. In them and through them, we seek restoration and life.
We now, again, come upon a time when we must reassess these “homes” we’ve built. Though designed properly and well for a certain time, place, and people, the form and function has been found wanting in our changing environs.
This image has been in my head quite consistently as we traveled South Africa. Blueprints to be drawn up. Groundwork to be laid. The other day over breakfast, I asked Dieter if he had any favorite Bible passages regarding buildings. He mentioned how God is rarely, if ever, concerned about our temporal buildings. In fact, there is quite often talk of the throwing down of such structures. Our God is interested in the dwelling – that He might be among us and that we might be with Him.
1 Peter 2:4-5
Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:5-23
For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Andrew Murray, The Spirit of Christ
In the will of God, carried out by man, God finds a Home. God comes down to dwell in the obedience of His people.
Lord, remind us that listening precedes obedience. Teach us to build. Oh, that You might find us faithful. Dwell in the midst of us.