HELP THIS RIVER GROW

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Last month I wrote a piece titled “Help, I’ve Been Disrupted” where I talk about some of the things a person can expect when they are learning a new theology, as well as things that you can do to help yourself remain healthy and not become bitter. Of course the hope for disruption and reformation in our theology is to ultimately help us in our pursuit of God and our individual callings to advance the Kingdom of God among the earth. Whatever we are studying and gaining in understanding should pointing us in that direction. So with that said, in this article I want to talk about some ideas about what it looks like after-the-fact, after you have been disrupted. How can you bring refreshment to the body, and how do you know you are ready to take that step?

As I said before (I believe this wholeheartedly) when we are going through shifts in theology it is necessary to find like-minded believers who will lift you up and encourage you to no end. We absolutely need each other, “iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17) but what about bringing back this newfound freedom to the dry places you left, or other places that need freedom? I was thinking about this the other day and I got the picture of a river in my mind, and the idea was that one large river traveling through a region or body of land will provide refreshment to the ground near the water and the banks. This is great and the surrounding area is full of lush vegetation and life. Life is good, life is the goal, but what about further inland? As you zoom out away from the river, you start to see the land become arid and dry. You eventually get to a place where it is so dry all that you have is sand and tumbleweeds, and a few cactus scattered throughout. (I wrote a piece about this here) 

So what am I saying? Let’s call this new and better understanding you have gained about Jesus and the group of believers that you are joined to, let’s call this the river. There is so much good fruit that is coming out of this river, people are being healed, you are moving in the power of the Holy Ghost, you trust God like never before and the river is gaining in strength, praise God! You are inviting people from all over to come jump in this river with you and some of them do, the river is even getting bigger, awesome! Now, even with this river getting bigger and stronger, you want to see the entire land saturated with the life that comes from being on the banks of that river because you know that it is that good, and when you know that Jesus Christ is good and you experience that, the natural result is to want to share Him. So how can you get this river to bring life to the far reaches of the land?

It was at this point I started to think about a river splitting off and branching out. The same amount of water flowing downstream, but instead of having one channel of water it started to divide and split, and divide and split. When a river does this you now have so much more surface area that surrounds it and you have many banks of lush vegetation that good fruit is being produced from. Eventually it would spread out into the driest places of the desert, so instead of just having cactus out there storing water, you now have water flowing and many different types of fruiting trees that turn that desert into a land full of abundant life.

Thinking about the movement I am a part of, this is what I hope and believe that we will be doing in the body of Christ throughout the entire world.  We have seen and experienced the fruit of what this healthy theology looks like in the life of the believer, and it is good – but there is still so much more land to saturate with this living water. Knowing the theology and tradition that I came out of prior to joining the Welton Academy, I must say that there are so many God-fearing people who love Jesus and people so much, but they don’t have a theology that can actually display His heart correctly to the world in which He died to set free.

How much more could they do if their beliefs matched His heart of not just reconciliation, but restoration for all of His creation? 

After spending some time with your new theology and stream within the body of Christ, after you have made the changes, I think about you as a person becoming one of those splits in the river. As you become more knowledgeable and gain in understanding – it is like your branch or channel of water becoming more mature and capable of carrying a larger quantity or volume of water into the dry land. But that is where I really want to focus on, how can we make ourselves and help others become more mature and healthy new channels that are capable of bringing this river to a church that is desperately in need? Let me start by addressing a few points:

  1. Your channel, your life and ministry that comes from the river will not and should not look exactly like any other persons channel. Do yourself and the rest of the body of Christ a favor and don’t be in competition with another person or group, or get into the comparison game. This is a losing game, and you are the one taking the loss. The body of Christ needs authentic and real christians because the world does not want more religious cookie cutter ministries. Don’t be surprised if your ministry or ideas that have been stirring in your heart are things that haven’t been done before, this is good.
  2. After you have been disrupted, though you might not be one who is teaching theology you need to continue gaining in understanding. You don’t just hear something one time and then have the ability to master the concepts and become an expert in any field of study. No, we need to seek to comprehend, articulate and then master the theology, and this will be a lifetime of work. That is okay and it only means that you will always have something in front of you to do. One of the reasons this is important is because so much of the body of Christ is focused entirely on theology and they need you to reach them where their focus is in order to take us seriously. This does not mean we don’t bring the power of the Holy Ghost along with us, it just means that we need to be like Apostle Paul who understood the importance of understanding a culture and meeting them there. (Acts 17) Afterall, charismatic Christians haven’t had such a great reputation of bringing a healthy and consistent understanding of theology to the world, let’s be the change.
  3. This should be fairly obvious, but make sure you stay healthy and free of bitterness. I have already addressed in the past our need to keep these offenses out of our lives, but it is crucial to continue to do the same because being a reformer is hard work. You will continue to be rejected, time and time again, you will be overlooked and not taken seriously at times, and this is to be expected. You cannot act like a mere man and let this bring resentment in your heart. You must love and serve the people who you are trying to help change their perspective, this is the fruit of what comes with good theology. ” If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the Lord will reward you.” (Proverbs 25:21-22) Deep down the truth is attractive, so when we behave like this and show Christian charity to those who would reject us, it plants seeds of change in the heart. 
  4. Each new channel or water (people) need encouragement regularly. We need to lift up and edify one another, it needs to continue to be a lifestyle and culture that we manifest. Now, we know how important it is to lift up our leaders, to pray for those at the top, but this is equally as true to people who are attempting to step out and start their ministries as well. They need encouragement and support, think of it as you helping to dredge the bottom of a river in order to make it possible for more water to flow through. Because of all the change and the rejection that many who have taken a step of faith and found a new theology have experienced, it can be hard for somebody to start back up in ministry. Also, think of this encouragement and support as you sowing into the river, and you will reap this same encouragement when you start to become your own channel. Reaping and sowing is a real thing, a spiritual law. You will attract what you give away.

Now I don’t want to be presumptuous and downright foolish into thinking that I know it all, or anybody in any stream knows all there is to know – but if we want to be a factor and create a legacy and make a major impact to future generations of believers, we need to take risks, no matter how hard it will be. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t stay connected, but when you are strong enough you should start to venture out of your comfort zone and share with those who may even ridicule you what it is that you have learned. You go and disrupt them and show them how free that better covenant theology really makes a person. They may not want it at first, but if you know what you believe and why you believe it, you won’t worry about “being right.” You won’t need approval in order to love them and give them a refreshing drink.

It is human nature to want to be comfortable and we all long to find our place, this is good and healthy – but if you are called to be a reformer, you will need to take some risks and make yourself a bit uncomfortable.

I say you need to, because God isn’t going to force you to. You can stay comfortable and in this new safe place and God won’t be mad at you any, you can enjoy the river and stay refreshed, but if you want to experience the blessing of bringing hope and refreshment to hopeless and dry places, you will have to fill up your bucket and take that water into the desert.

So if that is you, if you want to help reform the church and help create a new wineskin that can receive new wine (Luke 5:37-39) that means you’ll need to count the cost.

 

 

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