I am very aware as I write this, that the wording can seem provocative, and to some extent it is meant to be, but also it is something I have been praying and processing with others for a little time, and I think I want to put it out for further comment and thought.
So what are we thinking about?
The first 3 words, remaining, sustaining, maintaining, are words I have heard a number of leaders use recently. But I do wonder is that really what God has in mind for us?
Remaining: existing, just being there, the status quo, just being some kind of presence without necessarily engaging.
Sustaining: almost as a life support machine, just keeping going, keeping things as they are;
Maintaining: status quo again, fixing as we go along, keeping ticking over;
Surely none of these things are how the Kingdom of God seems to function? Jesus didn’t come to help what was just simply remain, sustain, or to even maintain it. Jesus seemed to come with a totally different agenda.
Jesus wanted people to know, believe that the Kingdom of God was at hand, close by, as we read in Mark 1, Jesus seems to come to challenge the status quo, but not just for the sake of challenging it but wanting people to know and believe and live out lives recognising that there is, was and will be more.
I wonder whether words such as remain, sustain, and maintain, keep us as settled people, a settled church? Happy as things are, not wanting to rock the boat, to see anything different or new? Surely we are not settling people?
As pioneers and planters, missionally engaged people, I know that settling is not one of our natural states of mind, but I have been challenging myself as to whether there are times that I just settle, and whether I simply just look to remain, or try and sustain what is, or even just remain by keeping a presence.
I have told people now for a number of years that I am settled with being an unsettled person. I am not one for settling for what is, I am never quite happy with the way things are, and I never look at the question of what would be enough!
Do we need to break out of our settled status as a Church to be able to obtain all that God may have for us, or want to do through us? The Holy Spirit doesn’t seem to settle for what currently is. The Spirit appears to be moving, enabling people to draw close to God. I am excited about this!
So let’s not just settle, remain, sustain, maintain, but be prayerful, seeking God, listening out for his voice, so we are able to obtain all that God has in store for us, and the people around us.
Gloucester Centre of Mission