While talking with a friend in Australia recently we were celebrating a vast network of friends throughout the world that Father has connected on this journey. The people span continents and yet through travel, Skype, and email connections have found a way to share their journeys together. It is truly friends and friends of friends that just keeps expanding in a simple and marvelous way.
“An unmaintained network,” my friend called, and when I heard it my mind reeled. Yes it is, at least by humans. There’s no mailing list, convention, website, organizational name, or agenda that connects these people; it’s just the strength of their friendships and their willingness to keep in touch with each other as God leads. Jesus holds these friendships together and they have truly been a joy.
We humans try to do so much for God, and what we do always has more of our fingerprints on it than his. And while they can do some good for a limited time, they almost always end up with a lot of futile activity to try to maintain them, almost always with frustrating results. Whether we are managing someone’s spiritual journey, trying to create community, or promoting the next movement that we think will help God’s purpose in the world, we are still looking to human conventions instead of letting him be Head of his church.
Throughout Scripture God keeps inviting us away from human scheming and ingenuity to trust his efforts more than our own. Don’t trust in the size of your army, or the horses and chariots of Egypt, the Israelites were reminded. God trumps them all. Don’t think God lives in building made with human hands, or institutional systems either. His work is so much more vital than that. It an never be housed in something man-made, which is why they always fade in their effectiveness, and why those who think they lead them get sidetracked by their own use of authority.
The best aspects of my life and journey don’t come as the result of human effort, but from simply embracing God’s reality and listening to him as he unfolds his working. That’s why the term ‘unmaintained networks’ caught my heart. We don’t maintain them, because Jesus does. And they are fluid and active, rather than structured by our need for definition and order.
Isn’t that true of everything valuable? It doesn’t result from human effort, but Jesus’ leading. You can encourage someone to know Jesus, but you can’t become their mediator. No lesson plan, discipleship curriculum, how-to book, or bible reading schedules will work for the long haul. They will give us a sense of achievement for awhile, but will not ultimately satisfy. They are human systems and he is so much greater than any of them. You don’t find a life in Jesus by following someone else’s plan, but by learning to engage him in your own heart.
And isn’t the deepest expressions of community risen out of unmanaged relationships? Who knows why we connect with some people more than others, or that some friendships continue to grow and deepen, while ones we work harder at don’t seem to? Jesus knows how to knit his church together and it is a work no human could ever engineer.
Unmediated spirituality, unmaintained community, and unmanaged networks are only that in human terms. By not doing it ourselves, we learn to trust Jesus as the one who mediates, manages, and maintains, and he does it with life-giving joy in the unforced rhythms of grace rather than the rigors of human organization.
It’s this joy that I hope we’re learning as the frailties of even our best human efforts becomes clear. Then we can learn to listen to him as he invites us to engage him and others through friendships of heart and watch his greater gathering of the body, grows in the world.
Some Updates Of Interest:
Wayne and Sara will be in Victoria, BC this weekend meeting with some people on this journey during the day on Saturday. I know it’s late notice, but if you’d like to be included, you can get the details here.
- We already have sixteen people signed up for our Experiencing Israel Tour next February. Only twenty-four slots remain. If you’d like to join us, you can check out the trip details and register here.
On May 31 – June 10, Wayne will be in North Carolina to host the first Seeding Community conversation for those who are exploring what community might look like outside the box of human-managed programs. He will also be involved in some gatherings throughout the following week, and host a larger gathering on Saturday afternoon and evening in June 8. You can get more details here.
- Finally, our service station project in Kenya is coming together. See picture below. This amount needs to come in quickly as this land is being developed, so if you feel called to help us support these children with this enterprise, or help with our monthly support until it is completed, we and they would be grateful. If you want to know more about this project or the AIDs recovery home we also support in South Africa, you can see our Sharing With the World page at Lifestream. You can either donate with a credit card there, or you can mail a check to Lifestream Ministries • 1560 Newbury Rd, Ste 1 #313 • Newbury Park, CA 91320. Or if you prefer, we can take your donation over the phone at (805) 498-7774.