It starts with you

Russell Brand is an English celebrity (best known for being a comedian) who has incorporated his notorious drug use, alcoholism, and promiscuity into his comedic material. A friend suggested I watched him being interviewed by Jeremy Paxman. Russell spends 8 minutes ranting about why he does not vote and how the people with power are corrupt. I found myself agreeing with many points Russell was making including his disillusionment with the political system and unfair distribution of wealth.

However I am pretty sure we disagree on the solution.

History shows us the effect power has on humans. Russell mentions that 300 Americans have the same amount of wealth as their 85 million poorest Americans. But how many of the 85 million would swap places with the 300 if given the chance? Why do people spend a lifetime working? Give anyone money and power and watch it control their life.

People often blame God for the planets suffering while denying the selfishness of their own lives. Researchers say that, according to their estimates, people in this country (UK) dispose of about 15 million tons of perfectly good fruit on a yearly basis. We are told there is enough food produced every year to feed the planet.

Even in the poor areas I hear people judge and blame each other. “She’s just a dirty prostitute” says the alcoholic. “They are waste of space alcoholics” says the single mum. Russell blames the government for our problems but I just see the heart of man. There is no ‘them’ we are the culture, we are the city, we are the problem.

Russell Brand talks of a revolution. Let me quote the greatest revolutionary that will ever walk the earth. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

As a Christian community we take the words of Jesus seriously. We realise as humans we are flawed but we fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. We don’t worship money or power but a worthy God. We are not claiming to be perfect but we deeply value the truth and speak it in love. We care about the effect that our life has on those around us.

Missional Community

I was recently watching a documentary about the Gloriavale Christian Community in New Zealand. While convicted by their daily devotion to God and each other I kept thinking of one of my favourite parts of the Bible. Jesus has defeated death and gives his followers the Great Commission: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28) The Gloriavale Community are very keen on being set apart and the soon return of Jesus. The very heart of God is to be reunited with all his children. I want everyone around me not only to see my Christian life but share it too. As Christians we can carry the authority of our Father to do his will.

To accept the great mission Jesus has given us we must learn the thinking, behaviors, and practices of a missionary in order to engage others with the gospel message.

I am very inspired by the early Christians. From reading the Bible you can sense the message and impact of Jesus was fresh and organic. The followers were not rigid but following Spirit intuition. “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2)

Mankind has tainted the message and lifestyle over many years and called it ‘religion’.

Today we must ask ourselves who is the missionary? We invite people around us into the frame-work of the things that we do, things totally inconsistent with the lives that they lead. Don’t expect somebody with no idea of church or salvation to go into places they are uncomfortable going. Don’t expect people who haven’t experienced the Spirit to suddenly adapt their schedule to yours. Don’t let your frame-work contradict your mission.

How do we face this challenge? Let us be the missionaries that carry the Spirit and Gospel to the uncomfortable places. We need to think of new and creative expressions of gathering together that allows us to spread the Gospel. I am fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to be part of a small and flexible missional community. Five Christians (and one baby) living and sharing everything including what we have found in Jesus. For me the vision has grown over the last year after reading books like You See Bones I See an Army and visiting Woodlands Community Church in Bristol. The vision continues to grow. Watch this space!