An open letter to our beloved Bloom // On giving the Spirit our “yes”

Good morning Bloom –

Following Sunday’s gathering, in which I preached out of Mark 1 (“a new teaching–and with authority”) and talked about how the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of the rich reality of God in our midst to utterly transform human life–a reality that includes phenomena typically characterized as “charismatic” (signs and wonders and miracles and what have you)–and that God’s desire for his people always is that they would make their way into bigger and deeper “yes’s” to the Spirit’s work so that God would arise in fresh and powerful ways among them, a gal came up to me and said, “You know what really scares me? It’s not giving God a ‘no’, but really giving him that ‘yes’ you spoke of… because giving him my yes includes the possibility that I’ll be hurt or disappointed or let down. If I lower my expectations, it’s easier when God seems to do nothing.”

I felt so much compassion for her, and really deeply resonated with what she was saying. What she was talking about was the risk involved in giving ourselves utterly to God, casting ourselves upon the impossible possibility that maybe, just maybe, it’s all true–that the New Testament may in fact be merely the tip of the iceberg of the total work of God in the world, that there really might be a God who “gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were”, that the friends of Jesus really may be called to “greater works” (whatever that means).

To involve ourselves with such a God and with such a story is scary. The risks are many. We risk disappointment, we risk what can feel like failure; but we also risk the possibility that in all this yielding, the Spirit will drag us out beyond the places of our comfort. We won’t be in control anymore.

I really want that. For me. For us. And I really believe deep down that God has much more for us than what any of us have ever seen or known.  

The beautiful thing about a congregation like Bloom is that we’re capable AT ONCE of holding a ferocious desire for more of God AT THE SAME TIME AS we acknowledge the mystery and complexity of this whole thing. Many congregations can’t do that. And so when God doesn’t do what they thought he was going to do, they find convenient explanations–sin, a lack of faith, judgment from God; you name it.

We’ll never do that at Bloom. We don’t feel the need to explain all of this away, since the truth is that none of us can ever have any definitive notion of why things turn out the way they do anyway. But neither will we back off of longing from God all that he’s capable of giving us. We’ll keep coming at him with pure hearts, like children, expecting his highest and best and then resting in his arms when things don’t happen like we hoped they would.

To me, that is one of the highest forms of faith–being able to sit in the tension, without surrendering once inch of territory on either side of our ache and the mystery of God’s total work.

Anyway. I just thought that was worth saying. I’m so encouraged by all that God is doing in our midst. I hope you are too. Let’s keep running like banshees into the new creation…

Grace, peace, and love be yours in abundance.

Andrew

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