December 03, 2007

Our Focus Should Be ….?

I came across an interesting quote last night in a book I've recently begun reading:

The careful, painstaking education of the disciples secured that the Teacher's influence on the world should be permanent; that His kingdom should be founded on the rock of deep and indestructible convictions in the minds of the few, not on the shifting sands of superficial evanescent impressions on the minds of the many. – A.B. Bruce

And that got me to thinking. In the church, where should our focus be? I highlight the word focus, because I think it's a false dichotomy to say that in order to focus on training and equipping, we must abandon our zeal for finding stray sheep. Likewise, I don't believe that in having a zeal for stray sheep, we should lose our love and passion for sheep that are already in the fold and assume that they no longer require care and attention from their shepherds.

But it is a question of focus. Some obviously stand in the camp of focusing on stray sheep, and in their own admission, find the process of building deep convictions and sharpening edges of faith to be boring. They believe the best use of your life is a relentless pursuit of lost sheep.

But is that who Jesus was? As you read the Gospels, do you find a Jesus who cared little about the "depth" and "quality" of understanding/knowledge that His disciples had of Him?

If there was ever a life where every second counted, it was Jesus. So how he spent his seconds and hours should speak volumes to us of how we spend ours. And what you see Jesus investing "most" of his time in during his three year ministry, I believe, is a core group of men whom He had chosen. Did He seek stray sheep? Yes. Did he find what was lost? Yes.

But I believe his "focus" was on twelve ordinary men. He knew that for generational effectiveness to exist, they were going to have to receive hours upon hours of instruction, training, relational investment, and care. And even after all of that, it still took the Holy Spirit as promised to seal them and keep them. Conviction takes time. Firm in the faith doesn't happen overnight. If we are to see rocks, redwoods, and stalwarts of the faith come to pass, then we must invest, nurture, and care for them when they are seedlings.

We must care for spiritual infants as much as human parents care for newborn babies if we are ever to see spiritual adults. It is an inescapable Biblical truth.

We must re-orient our timescale and begin thinking in terms of years and decades rather than minutes and hours when it comes to imagining effective spiritual formation.

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