Croydon High Street. January. Sunday afternoon. Shadowing a scouse evangelist, Scott.
“Can I ask you a quick question? Have you seen this picture before? Do you pray?”
The dapper looking guy in his twenties engages with the conversation. Scott talks to him about Jesus, about Jesus knocking on his door.
“You work in banking don’t you?” “Yeah, I do, how did you know that?” “Yeah, how would I know that?” Me thinking ‘how did he know that?!’ – the guy looked like a hairdresser.
“You went in to banking to impress your father, didn’t you?” This was in fact the case, and me and the guy were moving toward flabbergasted.
“Can we pray for you?” “Sure, ok”
The guy was visibly moved by the prayer and moved on with the words, “I’ll never forget this meeting, thank you so much.”
“We look for the fruit that’s ready to fall.” Says Scott, for whom this interaction doesn’t make the top 5 most interesting of the weekend.
Sure, Derren Brown could replicate this. David Blaine could better it. Could have been a lucky guesses. But maybe, just maybe Jesus still speaks to Scousers like he spoke to Samaritans, and some proportion of Croydon’s 400,000 inhabitants are ready to hear and take steps forward today.
Even in the book of Acts (6:1), smack bang in amongst the miracles, the marvels, the mission, and the multitudes converting: the worst ministry to fail (the mercy ministry) breaks down for the worst reason (racial division). The PR team didn’t sleep well that night.
I’m grateful that they didn’t call a meeting when this became clear, shrug their shoulders and say, ‘guess we failed guys, movement over, back to the fishing’.
They acknowledged the errors, put in the work to fix them, moved forward and kept it as part of the story.
The word of God, of course, multiplied all the while.
For some of us, walking with Jesus is a spacious place right now. It’s a great big park where you can’t even see the fences. There’s options, sunshine, joy and freedom. You can woosh down the slides, swing on the monkey bars, enjoy your ice cream. Hey, take your top off and swing it round your head if you fancy, why not? You’re running around a spacious place.
For others of us, we’re currently super aware of how narrow the path of discipleship is. It’s struggling over stepping stones in the middle of a storm. The next rock is barely visible and we’re not sure we’re going to reach it. It’s chiselling away hard at us, cutting into the very core of who we are. It’s carrying an instrument of Roman execution on our weary shoulders and fighting to get through to the end of the day.
Both of these extremes, along with every shade in between, are totally valid in the life of the disciple. Both will be being used by the Master Craftsman to form your heart and make you more like Jesus. The One acquainted with grief, anointed with joy and absolutely unflinching in his commitment to lay his life down for a lost world in service and love.
So, whether you’re enjoying or enduring today, lean in to Him.
and is too concerned about your character, to allow the trajectory of your life to follow an unbroken line of steady promotion.
“The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold and the Lord tests hearts.” Proverbs 17:3
One truth about your today is this: the Lord will be actively, fiercely even, testing your heart.
Yes, partly in that scary exam and assessment way. Evaluating and exposing.
But also in the sense of refining, purifying and burning off dross.
Every circumstance of yours today will be used by a Master Craftsman to further his work of forming, strengthening and shaping your one heart.
Co-operate with him today. Embrace this process.
Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, Democratic.
It’s estimated that only 12 % of the world is currently like this. If you widen that out to “humans through history” – that small percentage falls dramatically again. No one at all was WEIRD before 19th Century.
That’s not to say that any or all of these are negative traits. We need to recognize though that none of them are really neutral in how we receive, process and live out the message of the gospel. The message of the middle eastern-uneducated-woodworking peasant, who was obliterated by the Empire before rising again.
Live among people.
Serve the Lord.
Shed some tears.
Go through trials.
Declare what’s profitable.
Preach in public.
Teach in houses.
Don’t shrink back.