Monday, November 7, 2005

People of the Spark

"Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal." (Philippians 3:17, The Message)

The NIV version says to "take note" of others, while the NASB has the more passive "observe others", and the King Jimmy says we should "mark" others who are running the race well.

It's hard sometimes to know what marks to take note of, observe, or keep track of. What outward signals do we notice that say to us, loud and clear, that we're in the presence of people who know Jesus pretty well, á la Acts 4:13?
"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus."
We've all met people who almost immediately strike us as "wow, these people are close to God, and being with them brings me closer to God, and I feel encouraged and more faith-filled after spending time with them."

Wendy and I have discussed this many times over the years; it just seems like some people have that "spark" within in them, and you can't help but notice it. Sometimes they're quite theologically astute, and sometimes not, but either way, you just knew that they "had been with Jesus" in a way that was encouraging, refreshing, and challenging all at the same time.

A good friend of mine recently remarked in an email: "I will say openly that your orthodoxy is more generous than mine... I don't know if I should admire that or worry about you! You do seem to simply make the assumption that you'll settle into a local attractional / modern / organized / institutional / what-have-you kind of church congregation in Kelowna. Can I try not to be offensive and still ask why?"

I guess the short answer is that I'll hang out in de-structured and structured places alike, if I encounter people there who have that "spark" of the Holy Spirit within them. I fully expect to meet some of them in a house church; I also expect to meet some really unhealthy people in a house church. I fully expect to meet "spark" people in the established church(es), and of course I am also painfully aware that I'll meet some really unhealthy people in these same churches.

A few years ago, I re-read Keith Green's biography, No Compromise. One of the things that really gripped my heart at that time was the question: "Where are the passionate followers of Jesus now? I want to hang out with them again!"

And, of course, we will also recognize that it is only as we pursue being people of the spark, that we will in turn be a blessing to others.

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