Friday, August 17, 2012

Sunk without you

At our recent big church bash Ian, one of the Jesus Army's main leaders, spoke about "covenant".

We call the commitment made by core members of the Jesus Army a "covenant". It's a mutual promise to be faithful to God together and to live out His calling to be a Jesus army (and not without its controversies; for instance, some have seen it as too limiting: “why commit to just one church?”) I’d say it was one of our key strengths, a confirmation of the real brotherhood and unity we share.

Brotherhood covenant (picture by pixelstar of sxc.huOne thing that Ian said jumped at me with real freshness. I captured it with a tweet as he spoke: ‘Covenant commitment is not a super-spiritual pledge for holy people, but a survival pact for people who know they’re weak.’

All too often we can see things like covenant commitment as an attainment, as a plateau inhabited by the spiritual. In fact, it’s a recognition of need.

I cannot be a Christian on my own. Others may be able to sustain an isolated discipleship; I can’t. I need my covenant brothers and sisters and I need them to stay with me or I’m sunk.

I cannot stop sinning on my own. Others may be able to achieve solitary sanctification; I can’t. Without brothers to hear my sordid confessions and cheer me on along the upward road to (an, in this life, always approximate) holiness, I’d degenerate fast.

I cannot believe in God on my own. Others may have mightier faith than I; I need the reality of brotherhood if faith in God is to be anything more than just a theory (and one that I might well abandon when the chips are down).

What’s more, it isn’t enough for me to just have some brothers and sisters walking with me part of the road. I need them the whole way – or I won’t make it. What’s more, if I don’t promise, very clearly, to stay on the road with them, I’d be off into a siding in no time.

So I promise. I covenant. I need to.

It occurred to me last night – after an evening of wonderful relaxed eating and laughing with those I live with, in community – that Christian community is much the same. Some see living in community with all things in common as a lofty pinnacle (or at any rate something “for the most committed”).

Really?

If you can have your own money and not love it, you are more advanced as a Christian than I am. I need to have no money, to share all my money – otherwise money-love would get me (maybe subtly, maybe outright, but I promise you it would be there.) I take my hat off to those who evade money-love without a common purse. I’m just not up to their standard. I’ll take the easier path please.

I’ll live in community.

4 comments:

Jayne120 said...

Refreshing insight and unburdening honesty. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

A good healthy perspective to have James :D
Said by someone who does not live Style 3 (from my perspective) :D
Darren Deliberate

Anonymous said...

A good healthy perspective to have James :D
Said by someone who does not live Style 3 (from my perspective) :D
Darren Deliberate

Ben Rowell said...

Amen.