My calling is not to create a “perfect world,” a world that meets my personal expectations. My job is not to tell the world how it ought to be. Instead, I am feeling invited into partnership with the work that the Holy Spirit is already doing – regardless of whether it matches my personal assumptions. How is Christ at work in the hearts of those around me? Where are the openings for divine love in our life together? What would it mean to flow with the Spirit to wherever life is happening, rather than insisting that the world come to me?
In the ministry I am engaged in – fomenting new community rooted in a living experience of Jesus – I have a strong sense that I should be careful not to grasp too tightly. I must allow my effort to flow like water, slipping past all the places of resistance and confusion and allowing myself to engage whole-heartedly with each moment as it comes.
Each day, I have to make the choice: Will I engage in prolonged, theoretical disputes? Will I allow myself to get tangled up in arguments that have more to do with vying human egos than with truth? Or can I find a way to flow past these blockages? Is there a way to continually roll downhill, flowing through the cracks and tender places? Can I recognize those places of least resistance to what the Holy Spirit is doing right now?
This “easy” path is a lot harder than it sounds. This resolution to flow past the tangled places in my life and communities requires that I surrender everything that is not absolutely core to God’s mission for me. It means that I have to be willing to surrender a lot of things that I like in order to be faithful to the One whom I love. It means trusting that the Spirit knows the best way forward, regardless of whether the end result looks like what I was expecting or desiring.
Communicating the good news of the risen Jesus requires me to get out of my comfort zone. Love demands that I hold loosely to my own sense of self and identity, entering wholeheartedly into the experience of others. I feel a deeper understanding of what Paul meant when he said, “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible… I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”
The good news is not that others should be more like me, but instead that all people, all communities and all nations, in the great diversity and differences that we display, can be infused with the living image and character of God in Jesus Christ. Our mission is not to produce cloned followers of a certain religion, but instead to connect every individual, language and nation with the True Vine whom we experience in Christ Jesus.
Jesus told us that the Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast that a woman put into a mass of dough. As she kneads the dough, the yeast comes to permeate every bite. God has filled the world with the yeast of the good news: The living presence of Jesus is within us and among us! How are we called to knead the dough?
How is God directing us to create the conditions where the Way, the Truth and the Life can infuse every aspect of our lives, our society and our global community? Rather than striving to conform the world to our own image, assumptions and culture, how does the Holy Spirit call us to participate in the infusion of Christ’s life and image into the vast diversity of life and culture that God has created?
What would it be like to see the whole world leavened with the first-hand, experiential knowledge of God’s living presence? What does it mean to knead the dough, and how must we ourselves be transformed in order to do this work?