written by Michael McBane
I write a lot about community and the substance found there in. I have also written about the core essentials that allow us to form community.
If you have read my thoughts previously you know that I have felt that our unity in Christ centered purpose was one of the ingredients that would allow our communities to have any type of fruitful purpose or longevity. And this unity is formed out of a common bond. Yes, that bond is Christ but to clarify, it is the rule of Christ in us as individuals that allow for us to serve the common good of each other as identified through our individual relationships with Jesus. The ruling of Christ or His Lordship is not demanded but fostered by our devotion in response to our growing understanding of His love. There here is a willingness to forfeit the thing or things that might characterize our individuality because we have recognized what Christ was doing in a particular season. In this recognition we understand that the common good is best served by contributing who we might be which might mean that we or our particular concerns are or is not the particular emphasis at that time. This can never be demoralizing towards the content of who someone is or can be nor can the tone of expression giving direction violate the core of anyones individual relationship to God. If these things are used in any way to form the life of a community it has diverted from the purity of devotion to Christ and become more about a person or persons then magnifying Christ on this earth. This community will soon implode or be reduced to fruitless expression until repentance is offered.
I have also celebrated the usefulness of our diversity but here to I have attempted to reveal that diversity without a core understanding of its purpose within a community will not bring strength. We must see how our diversity can increase a common value or subtract from the power to influence in regards to the substance of Christ seen and served through such a diverse community. A community that functions in unity is maintained because they wholeheartedly worship Christ. This pure worship allows for a subjection of the hearts and minds of the multiple members to serve the common purpose. The common purpose is never the formation of a man above others but the creation of a Christ centered living organism that contributes the character of Christ in its individual and communal expression.
Diversity for its own sake is divisive and erodes the fabric of loves attributes.
The love we gain in our worship is the love we contribute to the Christ in each other. We take the common ingredients creatively expressing love in service and cultivate fruitfulness with a vision that transfers life beyond the immediate time and place. We have a missional purpose that extends beyond our table.
Now it is necessary to examine the diversity that is forming our community for here we should find the characterizations of the ministries that we should strengthen. Even here there must be flexibility for we must pay attention to the ebb and flow of life in the spiritual seasons. God may ask us to sacrifice together to increase the emphasis of a particular call and then transfer that emphasis to bring function to another portion of expression. This would not necessarily mean that one is no longer valid it simply is bringing the resources to increase the greater fruitfulness of and to the collective vision seen and gained in our common worship.
I hopefully have given us some food to ponder in how we grow together in our collective expression towards a common celebration.
Now I want to expand this by taking some of the wisdom I have gained in the Parable of the Talents, Matthew 18: 14 through 29, and how I see that can apply to the purpose of my family and hopefully you will be able to find application within the community that you contribute to.
In this parable a ruler gave talents or money in various allotments to a collection of servants. I wish to consider the talents as the things that constitute our identity and calling in Christ. Using that parable as a foundation I will say that in the case of my family we have been given a number of talents. Now from our perspective we look at them in this way. Our individual relationship to Christ and our relationship to each other, the dynamics of family. First the marriage of my wife and I. Our talent here is to learn the ways of God in marriage and to adapt to the challenges that marriage might bring through the various seasons in life. From the love that blossoms in youth, children, jobs, joblessness, geographic relocation, church relations, good relationships and not so good and the challenges that form us in all of these into the image of Christ. So here in we would examine how we drew towards Christ or withdrew, how we utilized the gift of family and stewarded it to nurture the purpose of God in that emphasis. When the storms came and they have how did we go through them. All of these things contribute to how we enlarged those particular talents. We can expand them by including our individual gifts and examine to see if we allowed the Lord to govern those under what we consider to be His directives.
All of that considered we go forward into a vision hoping that we have allowed the Lord to govern our desires and that would include the expansion or restraint of such desire and the discipline to insure that the vision remained His. So here in our family we extend this into the marriage of our daughter and her desire to marry a man who would see the value of what God had called us collectively to and have a heart and will to contribute therein. So we are increased by a young man who must adapt to something at times he had not bargained for. His contribution is one that God has ordained and it is equally important for Him to not only see this but to grow in the spiritual wealth of this. So our talents have opportunity to multiply more so, but only if they are ruled by the compass of God’s desire. The increase comes when as in our case we grow with the grace but challenges of functioning under one roof. So the elastic nature of life must be apparent or it will not work in fact it will be destructive. So we grow to be sensitive to the season and to the Lord working in one another which may mean that the acceleration of our desire is governed to allow for the maturing of all concerned so that when we do step forward we have the maturity to steward the expansion in the ways of God. So in this collective we have our other daughter who as of this writing is not married and she has allowed the Lord to steer her heart and to capture it. So under the talents collected we have the value of her person as a single women and the talents that are also emerging in and around her. She can speak with authority to the concerns and to the joys and sorrows of many who concede to the pressures of ungoverned life, she can speak of purity with out the chastity of a religious command. Her life has been nurtured in a lifestyle of worship to know and offer Christ in substance. Her contribution is extremely valuable because it allows for a definition of our collective ability to see life in a more generous way. We have a collective group of talents that have when governed by the Holy Spirit the ability to give life. God has also given us more in the variety of grandchildren who are distinctive and among us. So we must offer help and hope to each other, wisdom but remember that we are not the parents. The delicate balance remains and this teaches us all to be servants in prayer first, and then to each other practically but loosely at times. We gather for meals and the expression is generational and when others come we do not change for this is the gift God has given to us to offer. For Him to be seen under a roof of great grace and mercy.
We have been graced with the ability to honor who God has allowed us to be in our family. We all serve with distinctive purpose and various applications and we all look to grow. But if I may give an example that I saw myself. My wife is a women of prayer. she watches over us in a different way then I might. Her sensitivity is different and balancing. But I saw this as a great well of wealth. I suddenly saw myself exhorting my family saying if your mom were to die we might feel in time a great space that we must fill in prayer. For we would have no idea how we have lived if suddenly the value of her prayers for us not only stopped but the well of her deposits of love became empty. I here saw a great talent that she has not buried but increased many times over. We must see that the talents we have been given are not for our success though we might measure some in that way but for the increase of Christ among us.
Now we all have various natural desires that are different and they must be considered in how we grow. But we all must grow in our willingness to see how for anyone of us to demand the inclusion of our desire might divert the bigger purpose. Here though we collectively must be sensitive to let the Lord cultivate the heart and understanding in any one of us for we have been given particular natures to express the life of God in creative hope and expression, we in our family do so under the umbrella of hospitality given in a multi generational expression.
We have been accused of burying our talents by how we have been zealous over what we have been called to express especially when it seemed to reveal little that we spoke of except us living together. Yet God was faithful to breath upon the coals of our heart to remind us that He was watching over what He had given to us. And that we had prayerfully asked Him to show us how to maximize what He had given to us to insure that God’s goodness would be seen as He passed by.
I pray that in these words you found wisdom and wisdom by our example. By God’s grace.