Discipleship is by its very nature done together in that we are never meant to be left alone to follow God. Rather, we journey together as a faith community, watching for Jesus’ example and his Spirit at work in the world.
So in community, such as home group, everything we do is a response to God. In terms of UP, we are worshipping Who God is, thanking Him for what He’s done and what He continues to do. In terms of IN, we love each other because Christ first loved us. In terms of OUT, we follow God in the world, asking all the time, What is God doing, and How can we join in?
The impetus is external, from God, rather than an agenda set internally by us.
So, really, the priority is...
What’s God doing? before, What are we doing (in response)?
Not, What are we doing? and then hoping that God follows up our action (however noble it might be!)
After Jesus’ resurrection, the angel tells the women at the empty tomb that Jesus “is going ahead of you into Galilee” (Mark 16:7). The post-resurrection mission of God begins with Jesus going ahead of the disciples, not the other way around.
We’re probably familiar with the Great Commission to “go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19) and it can easily feel like it falls on us to pioneer a way forward, but who is really the pioneer? The verse before reads, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me”, and then it reads, “Therefore, go and make disciples”. Making disciples is our response to the truth that Jesus has all the authority; he’s gone ahead of us.
So, what is God doing?
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion –
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendour. (Isaiah 61)
Gregory Porter’s song, When Love was King, is a lament about love leaving a place. It speaks of what a land could look like when Love is King...
Do you remember when love was king?
...He ruled the world with his fist unfurled,
with open arms for the world.
Of hungry children first he’d think,
To pull their lives from the brink.
When love was king,
He’d rescue souls lost in the sea.
In drifting vessels, he would hear their plea.
When love was king,
He’d throw a line before they’d sink,
And give the thirsty ones a drink....
....So seek some place to call your own,
Next to this mighty, shining throne,
When love was king.
What could these things look like embodied in our community, as we follow His lead,...
...when OUT is “seeking first his Kingdom and his righteousness...” (Matthew 6:33) above our own kingdom? What if, once a month, instead of meeting in someone’s home that week, we go out and engage in something that God is doing out in the world?
...when IN is loving others and building trust, welcoming new people and sharing needs – “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34)?
...when UP is joining in creation’s worship of its Creator for all He’s done....?
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
4 One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
5 They speak of the glorious splendour of your majesty –
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.[b]
6 They tell of the power of your awesome works –
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
7 They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
9 The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.
10 All your works praise you, Lord;
your faithful people extol you.
11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might,
12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts
and the glorious splendour of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
(Psalm 145: 3-13)