This past weekend, a team of people from Cornerstone International headed over to the UK to join in with leaders from the various churches and ministries from the Lifelink International family. People from various nations joined with us, specifically from the UK, Belgium, US, India, China, Zambia, South Africa and Argentina.
There is no doubt of how great it is to be envisioned for God’s kingdom and hear about all that God is doing in our midst as a family of churches and ministries around the world. Though we are small in comparison, I am always reminded that Jesus simply started with twelve, and with that, the mustard seed of the kingdom of God has continued to grow throughout the centuries. So, I am humbled how God has chosen to use a smaller grouping of churches and ministries within Lifelink.
The teaching was excellent as various people (yes, even apostles and prophets, as we [healthily] believe they still exist) shared from the Word things that are relevant for leaders in their various local situations. A lot was focused around two things: 1) transition and 2) community.
We could argue the church is always in transition. We don’t forget where we’ve come from, the cloud of witnesses that have gone before (Hebrews 12:1). But we always recognise that the one who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) is also stirring new things in our midst to move forward in. And we must let go of that which must be let go and take up that which God has asked us to. Our eyes must stay fixed on what He is saying, what He is doing. This will bring much fruit to bear.
Not only that, but we must remember we are called to this together. There is no room for lone ranger ministries, nor the individualism that has ravaged the church in the past few decades. Of course, there is room for diversity and individual expression. No one would or should deny such a truth. But there is no room in the heart of God for individual-ism. Such has no place in the kingdom of God.
Because the Trinity has no room for such. Of course, the Father, Son and Spirit have their own unique roles within the Godhead. But they are continually at work together, relying on one another. This comes out in the words of Jesus very clearly:
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” (John 5:19)
1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry… 14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. (Luke 4:1-2, 14)
Jesus was even excited at the prospect of sending the Spirit to continue His work after ascending back to His Father:
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26)
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)
It wasn’t solely about Him and His role as the divine Son, what He was going to do for humanity. He so wanted to share all things with the Father and the Spirit. What beauty, what humility! (Here are some other thoughts in the past.)
And that is what I appreciate about those with whom we work. Even though we believe God still gifts people as apostles and prophets, and of course in the other Ephesians 4 ministry roles (evangelists, shepherds and teachers), if anything, we believe God has called us together. We are so diverse in our giftings, but we see that as a plus. It’s not about a one-man show, bowing to the great leader and man of God. It’s about togetherness and relying on one another, room for each to express their unique giftings and functions. For, again, that is what the Trinity has been doing from the beginning.
This is what I value greatly about our time together. Yes, it is about good, solid teaching. It is about corporate worship in song. It is about praying for the nations, various situations and differing people. But, beyond that ‘spiritual’ stuff, we just enjoy conversations over coffee and tea, eating meals together, sharing a glass of wine together.
But, this is ‘spiritual’ stuff as well. Matter of fact, we can see the importance of food in the life of God’s people in the Scriptures – ‘And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts’ (Acts 2:46). The relational aspect stands as one of those top priorities.
I am thankful for this fellowship, the relationships and sharing of life that the Trinity has called us into. They do it well and, of course, we should only look to exemplify them in all that we do.
Therefore, my conclusion is – conferences are great, but relationships is what it’s all about.