Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Part of the Crowd


And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
            “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.          
(Luke 12:22-34 ESV)

The 12th chapter of Luke is marked by a very clear distinction made throughout the chapter in terms of who Jesus’ audience is.  At the beginning of the chapter it is even clear that so many thousands were gathering around Jesus that riot behavior had begun (they were trampling each other), and yet some of what Jesus had to say he was saying for the benefit of his disciples only.

What makes a person a disciple?  There weren’t people who belonged to “the club” and those who didn’t.  That’s a contemporary construct we have imposed on the church.  What seems to mark the difference in Jesus’ mind between someone who is just part of the crowd and someone who is a disciple is a progressive challenge to come closer.   He turns no one away because they haven’t understood doctrine.  In fact, that is the very thing our contemporary churches use to sort people out.  If having doctrine nailed down is a qualification for leadership in the church, Peter should have been out at many points.  He’s the one who said directly to Jesus that there was no way he should go to the cross, right?

But here is a vast crowd pressing in on him because they want to be near Jesus.  These people have dropped a lot of their plans, including their work and ability to sustain themselves, to get some time with Jesus.  But they know that Jesus will move on and preach elsewhere, so their commitment is momentary. 

Contained within the crowd are some who want so much to be near Jesus they have decided to make a life out of it and are ready to move where Jesus moves.  A disciple is far less concerned with the location of Jesus and far more concerned with Jesus himself.  A disciple never grows so attached to where he is planted that he can’t conceive of going somewhere new when Jesus moves.

Here they are in the midst of this vast crowd, and Jesus turns to his disciples (at this point there were probably between 70 and 100 of them) and says, “What are you worried about?  I know you’ve left home and income and everything familiar, and you’re probably wondering where we’re going to get enough food for tonight, much less for the journey.  You worry about the Kingdom.  I’ll take care of the food.”

Someday your church will reach a crossroads.  To build or not to build.  To rent or to own.  To organize and structure or to be relaxed and loose.  To continue to be a church or to disband.  Your group’s decision will be different from other group’s decisions depending on a lot of factors.  But the determining factor must not be that you are backed into a corner because the church is facing a crisis if it doesn’t do “X”.   That will never bring about the will of God.  Your decision must be… MUST be, to go where Jesus is going.   What you decide may not even seem reasonable to everyone who is watching you.   But listen to Jesus.  Find out where he is going.  Then move with him.  Only then will you be disciples and not just part of the crowd.

Jon 

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