Home > Uncategorized > Forward. Together.

Thinking about the year ahead feels like a different season has begun sprouting its first seedlings all around us.  We can almost see small green stems coming forth from hardened ground,  despite the snows of winter continuing to blow down.

 At January’s Alabaster Circle meetings, Vickie McKnight “summed up” a sense of 2015 in the word “forward.”  On Sunday mornings, the single word that nicely unites and weaves together both pastoral insight and Joyland’s  body-life focus for 2015 is the word “together.”
Forward.  Together.   Only two words….but the impact of them listed side-by-side seems to contain a form of….well….dunamis, that great potential for extraordinary, unexpected results…or, as Thayer’s definition describes it, “inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature; power for performing miracles; moral power and excellence of soul; power and resources arising from numbers”*

 OK – I just have to say wow.  And part of the reason I say wow is to contemplate “the power of together,” as we move out in the communities and into the lives of the hurting – while the other part is to contemplate…God and each of us, linked by His Spirit….together

“Together” is listed 342 times in the NASB translation, with the books of Acts and Isaiah topping the list for word usage at 34 times, apiece.  Starting in Acts 1, Jesus was “gathering them together” when He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem (1:4);  in Acts 2, “they were all together in one place” on the Day of Pentecost (2:1); the crowd “came together” to hear the sounds of different tongues being spoken (2:6); those who believed “were together and had all things in common,” (2:44), they went from house to house “taking their meals together,” (2:46);  “when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness” (4:31); People “who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits” were coming together, and all healed (5:16); the high priest “called the Council together,” (5:21), Cornelius “called together his relatives and close friends” (10:24); at the house of Mary, “many were gathered together and were praying” (12:12); “In Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner that a large number of people believed, both of Jews and of Greeks” (14:1); when an issue arose, “apostles and elders came together” to discuss the situation (15:6).

Whether to accomplish ill or good, strengthened resolve and ability appears to be magnified and released in the company of “together.”   From the moment God said, “It is not good that man should be alone,” (Gen 2:18) I think He designed that “together” dynamic with special care, to have inherent qualities not acquired or manifested any other way.  It’s that “oneness” that Jesus talked about in John17:21:  “…You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us.” (NASB)   So perhaps He was simply magnifying the triune aspect of His very own Nature:  Father-Son-and-Holy Spirit ever-empowering, re-energizing one another, ever “together.”

Consider this perspective as you read I Corinthians 3:5-9.  The Message  translates it, “Who do you think Paul is, anyway?  Or Apollos, for that matter?  Servants, both of us – servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master.  We each carried out our servant assignment.  I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow.  It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow.  Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages.  What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving.” (I Cor. 3:5-9)

I like that phrase, “who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master.”

I propose that is a primary goal…individually….together….as we interact with those who already walk with Jesus, and those who don’t.  We wait on people to learn to entrust their lives to the Master.  The purpose of “together” is not for ourselves, necessarily, but to look to Him expectantly for the release of that inherent “dunamis” as we stand in our together-ness, seeking Him. That reflection of His triune Nature, released.

It is a focus and a lifestyle that is easily missed, and easily substituted.  The quality, type, and size of the seeds can move into the highest priority…the watering can become well-defined by quantity, technique, frequency.  As in the case of the Corinthians, those who perform those tasks can easily become more highly regarded than the object or purpose of the task, itself.  It is, I think, an action whose focus stays closely guarded through humility.  As demonstrated in Jeremiah 18, our God is One who waits….and we, as His people, are often called to do the same…and for the same reason.

Jesus knew this well when He spoke of Himself in both Matthew and Mark, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” (Matt. 20:28, Mark 10:45, NASB)  Jesus’ invitation in Matthew was to “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart…” (Matt. 11:29, NASB)

He, too, was implementing “forward”…and, “together.”

*Definition at http://www.studylight.org/lexicons/greek/gwview.cgi?n=1411