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‘Compassionate Power’

Mike Gilson's reflections on our vision for 2018


Mike GilsonAfter listening to a few people talking about what they think about our vision for 2018, I came upon something in a book by Tom Wright on the cross.

He was looking at all the different ways Jesus interacted with people in Mark 10. Tom says he was full of ‘powerful compassion, but maybe a better way of putting it would be compassionate power’. ‘Powerful compassion’ is like compassion with heartfelt tears. But ‘compassionate power’ is power, expressed with love – an ability to confront, comfort, champion - with compassion.

I’ve tried to look with fresh, ‘compassionate power’ eyes at the four strands of our 2018 vision and I think I’ve seen ‘compassionate power’ to be right in the middle of each one.

‘Come as you are’: are we able to welcome, accept and celebrate people who come into our church who are not like us, or how we would prefer them to be? Indeed, can we learn to accept people already in our church family whose ways don’t seem right to us? Can we find in ourselves the relentless ‘compassionate love’ Jesus showed to people who didn’t understand his mission and opposed him? God is calling us to be like that, and offering a vision of us changing to be like it.

‘Full of the Spirit’: where do we get the power to love in a way that pushes through our natural desire for things to be as we want them? How do we daily grow more like Jesus, growing in holy passion for things that please God, filled by the Spirit with that ‘compassionate power’? Only as we come to him in repentance and humbleness - desperate to change. We have been given a vision of an unblocking of the things that prevent the Spirit moving in us in power. And we been shown the potential of a resulting increase in the power of our work for the kingdom.

‘A Community of Believers’: nothing hinders the power of the church more than people not working together. As we change individually, we become more able to relate with each other with hearts of compassion. Unity – a vital part of comm-unity grows and we become a people of power – ‘compassionate power’, able to change the world.

‘Justice and mercy’: Micah 6:8 says ‘And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.’ 1 Peter 2:9 says ‘… you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.’ We are called to praise and worship our awesome God, as priests, interceding for a broken world that Jesus died to save. And reflecting and giving out the justice and mercy that God has always intended us to – as his royal representatives on earth here and now.
God, by his Spirit, seems to have been showing us all these things in recent months, and offering us the vision of moving into them.

It’s surprised me how people I’ve spoken to have strongly identified with certain parts of the vision and seen other parts as less important. It seems to me, more now than when we first felt we’d seen the ideas for the vision, that they all fit together - as a requirement for, or a result of each other.

Colossians 1:18-20 says ‘He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade —he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.’
How about that!