12th May - Thought For The Day - Looking Outwards
Words by Bev Jones
We have a small Pine tree in our garden. We bought it at Christmas a couple of years ago, to put lights on at the front of the house, but after Christmas it was still going strong and because it had roots, we re-potted it and put it in the back garden. It’s been there ever since, but we haven’t really done an awful lot with it and over the last few months, it’s looked decidedly sorry for itself. It had lost a lot of needles and its branches were thin and very bare in sections.
Having cleared some space in the garden, we decided to move it from its pot the other week, and plant it straight into the ground. What a transformation! In just three weeks, it’s gone from looking as though it was giving up, to having vibrant new growth on every branch. Each day it looks stronger, thicker and taller, as the top branch sprouts yet more new growth. What a difference a bit of re-potting makes. Having the room to spread its roots across a bigger space, and access to more nutritious soil and moisture has brought the whole tree back to life, and got me wondering whether part of the problem in many of our churches is because we have a gospel of containment rather than growth? Have we, for too long focused upon what’s happening inside our churches – our Sunday morning services, our many groups and projects, rather than what happens outside the church – partnering with God in the places that we do life. Alan Scott – a Vineyard Church pastor says:
‘Expect the church of the future to be known more for compassion towards the outsider than programs for the believer. It will have a reputation of bringing good news to the city and being good news for the city.’
Photo by Sam Mackulin
He goes on to say,
‘every church thinks their city is hard to reach, and every city is hard to reach when we stay in the building, but it’s amazing how open people are when we actually move beyond the services into our communities.’
If we’re learning anything at all from the current closure of our churches, surely it’s that there are so many different ways of doing things once we move from the building. Having been forced to re-think outside the confines of bricks and mortar, are we seeing the green shoots of promise and re-growth? Who would have thought at the beginning of the year that a headline in a major British newspaper would read,
“British public turn to prayer as one in four tune into religious services online.” And the subtitle that is perhaps even more astonishing: “Young people lead resurgence in faith.”
Photo by Ben White Via Unsplash
Perhaps it’s just possible that some of the changes that we’re seeing are the new growth in a previously thinned and weakened institution, and as we build outward towards what God is doing beyond all this, we allow ourselves to be stretched and grown as we partner with our Father in the work that He’s already doing in our communities.
So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up and be alert to what is going on around Christ – that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Colossians 3: 1-2 (MSG)