Empowering One Another

"If you explore the life of things and of conditioned being you come to the unfathomable. If you deny the life of things and of conditioned being you stand before nothingness. If you hallow this life you meet the living God."

Martin Buber

Several years ago I can remember reading a quote in Philip Yancey’s book ‘Reaching for an Invisible God’. He quoted Gregory of Nyssa at the end of a chapter saying “Concepts create idols, only wonder grasps anything.” Deep down I couldn’t help but feel as though we seem to have forgotten this fundamental truth. It seems more like we have so neatly packaged our church communities to be managed through methodological hierarchies so that if you maintained a certain degree of appearance you were considered “in” the church while if you did not measure up to a certain likeness you would find yourself on the “outside” of any church community and most likely, whether spoken or not, considered inferior to those who were in the church.

What happened to our wonder and awe at the amazing graces God worked through our dreams and passions? Have we so modernized the way “church” is done that we have forgotten God’s creative nature and his love for bringing out the redemptive power of grace through all people and cultures? I hope not.

In Acts 2:17-18 Peter quotes the prophet Joel saying, ““And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.” Peter’s and Joel’s prophesy was becoming a reality. Thousands of those who stood there before Peter were being thrust into seeing how their visions and their dreams were all apart of God’s plan. It was no longer about what the temple and priests could give them but, it was about how the kingdom of God was so very near to who they already were and were becoming. Their stories and testimonies were already describing the redemption and freedom Jesus was offering everyone through the power of the cross.

Bringing the gospel to others today is no different then it was two thousand years ago. James Kouzes wrote that, “People already have tremendous power. It is not a matter of giving people power – it’s liberating people to use the power and skills they already have. It’s a matter of setting them free, of expanding their opportunities to use themselves in service of a common and meaningful purpose. What is often called empowerment is really just letting people loose, liberating them to use their power.” This is the story of the gospel at large. If we are to empower others, then we need to recognize and acknowledge the power to which is already in and working through their lives. Namely the presence of the Holy Spirit as we see him in their dreams, passions, and visions towards kingdom building. As we join relationally in that work with them we can begin a discipleship centered on Jesus as it is expressed through a communal relationship rather then individualistic gain.

How can we do this in a practical sense? Covenants are perhaps one of the best examples given throughout scripture which unit both God and people as well as people with other people. God created a covenant with Abraham to bless him and his people (Gen. 22:15-18) which united them eternally (Ps. 105:8, 10; Isa. 54:10) and was continually referred back to throughout the story of the gospel (Isa. 51:2; Acts 7:2-3; Heb. 11:8).We as Christ’s followers share in this covenant anew through our discipleship of Jesus (Rom. 11:25-36) but it must be affirmed through a personal and intimate commitment. It is in essence a covenant we personally write ourselves to and with God. When we are in covenant with God we naturally become committed to one another regardless of recognition or not as Paul says in Romans 11:28-29, “As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.