The School of Faith (2)
The School of Faith
Which brings us to a second exciting possibility: that even though Jesus’ approach to situations was singularly creative and life-giving, this does not mean that it was a response only he could make. On the contrary, if the basis of his effectiveness was a way of creative thinking, a way of faith, then it was a Way which could be taught. And there is evidence that Jesus did indeed teach the Way to his disciples; that he expected them to be able to do just what he did; that he gave them opportunities to practise their skills; and that he became frustrated when he felt they should have known better.
If this interpretation is correct, then Jesus’ intention in choosing and training his disciples was to create a group of people who were formed in his Way of responding to people and situations - any person and any situation - all people anywhere and all situations everywhere. They were his friends because they knew his mind. This meant more than having access to his thoughts. It meant that they knew the way he thought, the way of creative thinking that he used, the way of creative thinking that was the basis of his response to anything and anyone that came along.
For Jesus, it was all the same giving life to others and teaching them, in their turn, how to be life-givers, were one and the same process. He did not give life in a way that made people dependent on him, but in a way that set them free. For a time, they stayed close to him, as he taught them, fed them and nurtured them, as parents nourish their growing children. But the purpose of good parenting is to enable our children to become themselves and live their own lives, as adults, so once the disciples knew how the process worked, they were independent operators. They could carry on generating life and sharing it, only needing to return to him for periodic sessions of debriefing, relaxation, refreshment and renewal.
So in the Gospels we find traces of this one process flowing on, with individuals at different points in their progress towards independence. We see Jesus preaching to crowds in the open and conducting impromptu teaching sessions wherever he happens to be staying. We watch the disciples coming and going; now working with him, and then being sent off in pairs in different directions. We form an impression of distinct circles of adherents, with differing degrees of commitment to accompanying him on the road, depending on their circumstances and their means. But all were benefiting from the same process which was shaping them to become fully developed disciples, mature enough to stand alone, but bearing the imprint of the mind and faith that had formed them. The maker’s mark.
He founded a school of faith: a school that did not have a single physical location, but which was based wherever he happened to be staying at the time.
Where do you see yourself in the story? Amongst the crowd or amongst the disciples?
Theology: God’s nature and purpose - Abundant life. Jesus’ preaching, life, mission and passion. Spirit creating abundant life.
Where we are going:
Following the call to find our way to the Source of Life, and to take others with us.
Aims: Combination of vision and strategy - holistic application to ourselves & context
How to communicate vision and deploy strategy in a manner that involves others. How to retain open boundaries - combining creativity and inclusivity
Who we are:
Not a separate group, set apart for a purpose, urged to set an example, but people already engaged in the Jesus’ task of feeding the people. Those who are involved in God’s mission to realise abundant life.
Paradox: simple tool, complex in application. Difficulties: - passage of time, - heavy demands, - many distractions, - scale, complexity of interrelated problems, - ferocity of adversaries,- inner fears, - inability to deliver. Means: Example - mentors. Experiment - application to self in specific situations. Practice - review and reflect on practice.
Why we meet:
To be discipled. To disciple one another.
Curriculum: 1. a) Know how to find the Source of life and allow that call and journey to shape our life b) Know that life is shown to us as treasure c) Know how to show people the treasure and how to make it real
Know the crowd: what they are searching for and why they refuse it.
Know how to lead the flock so that they are fed and until they are fed.
Know how to identify, enhance and invest life-giving resources.
Know how to feed from, share and give life-giving resources.
Know how to work so that we are sustained as the needs of others are met.
Know how to create a safe place, how to face our fear and work through it.
Know how to keep faith with the vision of abundance in abrasive situations and in the face of adversity.
Know the difference between what we must do and what God must do; and how to take responsibility for what we must do.
Know how to let God be God; how to go deeper in trust.
Know how to negotiate with others so that everyone’s needs are met and our efforts synchronised.
Know how to pay attention to the moment, the context, our resources, ourselves, another, and God.
Know how to ensure that change is a step towards abundant life for all.
Know how all this relates to prayer and the Eucharist/Lord’s Supper.
We already have everything we need. The resources. The space. The people. The stories. The images. We already know just about everything we need to know. All we need is to know how to arrange the elements to ensure that they become transformative. Gospels are training manuals, written to form and inspire and coach men and women as they learned to apply the Way