I remember that Steve Taylor song from long ago:
How powerful it is to step out of "clonely" religion into the freedom of fully unlocking our passions and God-longings. How powerful can it be for the kingdom of God when every member of His Body displays His glory and beauty in the way He made us.
I'm grateful that they showed the way,
Cause I could never know the way,
To serve him on my own, I want to be a clone.
During this weekend, we took a look at times in our life when we were fully alive, and thoroughly engaged spiritually in something that was "us." For example, Hugh talked about the five years he spent incarnating himself as a teacher living among a small African village. Another person might consider this to be purgatory, but Hugh came fully alive in that setting as he taught, loved, learned the language, and became part of a cross-cultural community sharing Christ. Mickey, on the other hand, recalled how much he loved imagining a project that needed to be built, putting the plans together in his head, and then seeing the reality come together. He employed this same passion, over the years, creating projects that cared for people in need or that brought the Body of Christ together. Katie loved to come alongside people to disciple and prepare them for greater spiritual influence in a way that did not draw attention to herself.
Sometimes our experiences shape our passions. One story was shared of a family in Mexico who became passionate about dealing with diabetes in their country because of their own daughter's struggle with the disease. Out of their work in this area, they have had a large kingdom influence in the lives of others with similar struggles.
It was very encouraging to listen to the stories of others, to share our own, and to affirm the unique way that God has designed and uses each one.
If you want to walk through this exercise yourself or with others, here are the questions that we used for this exercise.
In case you are wondering what brings me alive... I shared with the group an experience from last year when I was training missionaries in Madagascar. This brought together several elements in my life that God has built into me:
- My enjoyment of other cultures
- My many years of church planting
- My longing to see young leaders encouraged, prepared, and fathered (probably due in large part to the lack of fathering I experienced both as a child and in my early "church" years)
- My love of interactive, discovery-style learning
Most importantly, how much has the Body of Christ been held back because we try to shape people into forms that best fit our organizations and institutions instead of supporting them in becoming who they truly are in Christ?