Jesus pictures a vital vignette for such a time as this:
“Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.” (Luke 9:49-50)
Jesus reminds His followers that we are on the same team. In this COVID-19 moment, particularly in the near-term, we need to live like it. The world around us is divided and hostile, which provides a wonderful context in which the church can embody the hope and reconciliation Jesus brings.
As Lesslie Newbigin taught us:
[T]he only hermeneutic of the gospel, is a congregation of men and women who believe it and live by it. I am, of course, not denying the importance of the many activities by which we seek to challenge public life with the gospel– evangelistic campaigns, distribution of Bibles and Christian literature, conferences, and even books such as this one.
But I am saying that these are all secondary and that they have the power to accomplish their purpose only as they are rooted in and lead back to a believing community.
– Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1989), 227.
How does this challenge frame our engagement at this moment:
1. LIVE AS A BELOVED AND CRUCIFIED LEADER
The Apostle Paul models this posture when he writes: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). The love of the Father frees us from fear, envy, and competition. A crucified leader has no plans of their own so they can pray that God’s kingdom would come in His way and His time, regardless of the implications this might have for the leader or the church that person serves.
2. LIFT UP LEADERS IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Pray for and praise others. Find intentional ways to honor and celebrate what leaders in your community are doing for the sake of Jesus’ mission at this moment. This requires a heart of humility and a desire for collaboration.
3. LEARN FROM EACH OTHER & LEAN ON EACH OTHER
We need to be the kind of people who can share challenges, discoveries, and best practices. It’s important that we acknowledge that this is uncharted territory for us all. Leaders need to form local cohorts to explore what relaunch and reset might look like for the church in that place.
4. LINK ARMS FOR THE SAKE OF JESUS AND HIS MISSION
Finally, we need to practice partnership and kingdom generosity. Leaders should prayerfully explore ways they can take missional responsibility for a zipcode or postal code and then create inroads for gospel partnership around a shared mission.
How can you make the city a better place together?
Check out this video to hear Bill share more on kingdom-collaboration.