On my recent trip to Kansas, I got to enjoy one of my favorite weeks of the year. Teaching at the HIV/AIDs Intervention School at the YWAM base there, I got to have 15 students for 17 hours of concentrated discussion over four days where we get to eat, fellowship, and live together while each are sorting out what Father is doing in them to invite them deeper into his life.
My course title is God’s Compassion For the Afflicted, but to get there we deal with the entire paradigm shift from thinking religiously about God’s life and helping them think relationally. That means we have to untangle some of the religious wiring and help people embrace a new covenant paradigm as to how God wants to work in us and through us. Some of the things God sorts out in folks during this time are…
- Learning to live in God as the Affectionate Father not the Demanding Taskmaster (Rom 8:15).
- Watching that relationship change our Pharisaical contempt for the world into heart-felt compassion for those lost and lonely in the darkness.
- Losing confidence in our own efforts and agenda to accomplish his work, and freeing us to simply live alongside Jesus each day and watch what he does through us.
- Redefining life in the church not as our participation in services, assent to theology or belonging to an organization, but in growing, free relationships with other fellow-travelers.
- Experience the reality of growing trust in Father’s character and work and seeing how that transforms our self-focused lives to live freely and powerfully in his desires.
Of course all that doesn’t happen in a few days, but it can help people begin on this journey, or encourage those already on it to go much further down the way. This summer the Kansas base is taking this training on the road to Durban, South Africa and I hope to go if the Lord desires. I recently saw a video from there where 48% of the people living in one township of 400,000 people are HIV positive. This disease is literally ravaging Africa and I am so blessed to know those who have it on their hear to go and help. I also heard that as many people are dying with AIDS every 22 days as those who were killed in the recent tsunami. Imagine a tragedy like that that has become so commonplace it no longer makes the news.
As I said at the outset, dealing with these realities is my favorite thing to do with a group of people. The YWAM environment puts this in a classroom environment, but I find it even more effective in a home over a weekend with a group of people who are ready to rethink the life of the new covenant away from the religious packaging we’ve but on it for the past 2000 years. This process is highly interactive and the relationships it spawns are always a great blessing to me. Some start this process deeply embedded in religion and don’t even know it. Usually the first couple of days can be a bit threatening. Others respond like camels to an oasis, finding that the things Jesus brings up answer some of the deepest cries of their heart. As one said to me, “This was the whole purpose God sent us here.”
The great transition the church needs to undergo today is not from meeting in buildings to meeting in homes, but moving from doing Christianity as a religion, to living freely in the life of Jesus. That will change how we think about body life, but it goes far deeper than that. Of course all that doesn’t happen in a few days, but it can help people begin on this journey, or encourage those already on it to go much further down the way.