Monday, 28 March 2011

Path of Suffering to Enable Salvation for the Many

Joseph (of dreamcoat fame) utters some extraordinary words in Gen 45:4-7, and echoes them in Gen 50:19-21. The pain of the past, though real, is somehow dissipated and put into the context of a bigger picture whereby Joseph can show forgiveness and peace towards his brothers. He sees himself on a path that God has marked out, that has a bigger salvation purpose (v7).

Remember that his brothers had gone way beyond jealousy and had all but killed him, allowing him to be carried off as a common slave and leading his father to believe that he was dead. Though God had then given him success as a slave, that then landed him in prison. Joseph was well and truly on the receiving end of harsh treatment and injustice - a path of suffering.

Yet God brought Joseph through to his current exalted position by which many could be saved. It's interesting that Joseph doesn't seem to refer back to the dreams he had (Gen 37), he simply now understands that God has been at work not for others to bow down to him, but for the salvation purposes of God.

Here we have a 'type' (i.e. a pattern or model) of Jesus, who was also led on a path of difficulty & suffering through to eventual exaltation by which many would be saved.

As Christians we are called to follow in this same way.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Giving it your all

One of the verses that keeps me going is Acts 20:24 - 'I consider my life worth nothing, my only aim is to finish the race ... testifying to the good news of God's grace'.

We are all missionaries in one way or another - all called to testify to God's grace, to be witnesses. Some are higher profile, some more obvious, while others have more subtle roles. But the deal is that anyone who is in Christ is likewise called to take part. It is not an optional extra. Full stop.

For some it means great sacrifice, but God will uphold them. For inspiration check out this video of a schoolgirl from North Korea

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Organic Growth II

Having looked at the constitutional aspects, how about getting the activities off the ground:
  •  Dream big, but start by thinking small - attempt things that seem within reach so that: 
    • we could achieve what we committed to do
    • avoid the temptation to try and do too much and then fail, losing moral
    • learn from the smaller projects to give us confidence in then tackling bigger things
  • Simplify wherever possible – things get too grand and complicated too quickly, so go back and simplify to make things easier to achieve
  • Demonstrate some early successes (i.e. find some low hanging fruit)
  • Work up from the grassroots, and allow things to grow bigger naturally rather than jump straight into 'we will take over the world' type schemes
It seems to me that most of these are principles which new mission projects would do well to take on board.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Organic Growth I

The community association I am involved in is developing a life of its own, which it seems to me is a good thing.

It has been interesting to watch its growth. From the inaugural meeting of March 2009 where we didn't know how many would get involved, it has now won awards for its street party last year, and selected as one of four projects nationwide to demonstrate the value of community development training.

From the outset there have been some key principles that have made it easy for the organisation to get started and develop. In terms of organisation these are:
  •  a very simple and open definition of 'membership': anyone involved in any capacity in the area who wants to get stuck in!
  •  A light-weight and flexible constitution that only requires the standard key positions of chair, treasurer and secretary, and beyond that being very flexible: the management committee could be anything from 3 to 10 official members
  •  building in further flexibility, i.e. allowing any interested person to be co-opted on so they could contribute and help organise things as well
This open and flexible approach sets the bar for participation very low, since a key aim of the association is to encourage people to get involved. Not rocket science really!

Well thats the boring constitutional stuff! The next episode will talk about the dreams and setting about making them a reality ...