Jesus’s friends must have loved walking along with Him, he was one of those people who said it as it was. “If you have seen me”, he said to his friend Philip in the Gospel of John, “then you have seen the Father (God).” In other words if we want to know what God is like we need look no further than Jesus. Then, a little while later in the same Gospel, Jesus prayed for all the people who were following him, both then, and those who were to come. “Father”, he prayed, “may they be in me as I am in you.” In other words if people want to know what Jesus is like then all they need to do is to look at his followers.
In one way, as a follower of Jesus, I find that thought kind of scary, in another way I find it exciting, because he didn’t just pray and then walk away. He prayed, and then resourced us through giving His Spirit to help us to be a reflection of his purposes, love and life in today’s world. He walks with us still, leading us, guiding us, inspiring us, holding our hand through his Spirit.
There are loads of different ways of living out being Jesus in the world, but one thing is clear, when Jesus is around nothing is the same again. His followers turned the world upside down. Resourcing churches are about sharing in that pursuit to be Jesus, and in so doing to see the blind see, the prisoners set free, and the downcast packed full with joy. They are about a declaration of abundant life, an adventure in living, the life of Christ lived out a communities across the Diocese of Durham.
Now please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that other churches are not living out that life of Christ, of course they are. But Jesus told a story to help us understand this, it was called the parable of the sower. In it a farmer planted out some corn, some didn’t grow at all for various reasons, but some did, and of the ones that grew the fruitfulness in each looked different, some fruited 30, 40 or 60 fold. One thing Jesus was clear about though, was that fruitfulness is a sign of God in our midst, so we need to look out for, and be a part of, it.
For resourcing churches are about being intentionally fruitful in numerical growth, they are about resourcing growth today. They are about the 98% of people who are not yet part of a Christian community, the people that haven’t discovered the excitement of a God filled life. They are about our neighbours and friends, the man driving the taxi, the lady sitting on the checkout, the volunteers in the charity shop, the kids pouring out of school with nowhere to go. They are about people like us, discovering that people like us, can find a whole new meaning to life, a richness and a wonder, seeing this afresh for the first time.
They are about rediscovering the community Christ calls all people into, that ‘love for one another’, they about intentional living out of missional good news daily. As such they about making this same gospel accessible to all, about new Christian communities springing up all over the region, they are about working in partnership with the Holy Spirit. They are about no longer seeing the North of England as post-industrial, post Christian, or post anything, but rather as a vibrant hub of renewed lives, creativity, and joy. They are about hope, about a good story, and we want our region to be a big part of this hopeful love story of Jesus seen in His people.
The national church are prepared to invest in us in the Diocese of Durham to help us live the story, tell the story, and enjoy the adventure of Jesus even more. They are resourcing our growth in this region through investment in specific places prayerfully identified by our Bishop and his team. This is investment in our friends, in our neighbours, in our future, this is resourcing churches being worked out, this is a living declaration of the Kingdom of God turning the whole world upside down.