Of late I’ve noticed again what I call “the march of the misfits” – people being drawn into the church from a long way off, who are beaten up and hurt by life, and whom God starts to restore and send out to do his work of restoration with others who are far off. I went to a vocations day recently and many of the people there were so untypical and from so far away, I was almost knocked over. They are people who will be able to reach others for they know they are themselves redeemed and restored. Our community comprises people like this, and I am myself from a long way away.
What fascinates me is that folks like this are zealots – not in a bad way but in a way that says ‘my life has been redeemed, I’ve been lifted out of the miry pit – Christ has done that for me and I will give my life over to serving him’. They will go, be sent, live on little, do whatever needs doing, for the privilege of serving him – they have nothing to lose. They are dangerous, Kingdom people. When we see the last beginning to draw near the front of the queue, to sign up for the adventure – when we see the hungry and the desperate being invited in to the table for the banquet – we are seeing the Kingdom Jesus spoke about in our midst.
My Celtic daily readings at present are about the city – the future new Jerusalem and our cities now. Here are some of the things its said this month so far:
“Christianity is the religion of cities. It moves among real things. Its sphere is the street, the market place, the working life of the world.”
“An abundant life does not show itself in abundant dreaming [although it often comes first, in the imagination!] but in abundant living…among the real and tangible..in practical purposes.”
“One Christian city…whose citizens from the greatest to the humblest, lived in the spirit of Christ, where religion overflowed the churches and passed out into the streets and permeating the whole social and commercial life – one such Christian city would seal the redemption of the world.”
“Suppose John had lived today and seen a new London? Jerusalem was John’s London!”
“In every city today, there is a city descending out of heaven from God.Each of us is daily building this up or helping keep it back.”
“And the name of the city from that time shall be “The Lord is There.” Ezekiel 48:35
“In all seriousness, I make this definite practical proposal: believe in your city. What else? In Jesus Christ. What about him? That he wants to make your city better…What else? Believe in yourself – that you, even you, can do some of the work which he would like done, and that unless you do it, it will remain undone. How are you to begin? As Christ did. First he looked at the city; then he wept over it; then he died for it. ”
Yesterday I was at a gathering for pioneers called The Table. We learned about what was common to entrepreneurs who changed the world in various fields, about the values and vision that they hang onto at the early stages when things are going wrong and about where they find support to make their vision a reality. And about the epiphanies and stories that drive people to do the extraordinary when it looks impossible. God has given us the power of his holy spirit to discern what he wants to join in with, and relationship with Christ to call us on and show us what transforming love looks like in a city. Look out, the zealots and misfits are coming.