Sunday, 4 September 2016

Introducing Timonthy - Acts 16:1 - 5

We start a new series looking at Timothy the discipled leader. Paul meets Timothy on his travels (Acts 16). We are told little about him, but clearly Timothy joins as a helper, and goes on to be a leader in his own right. The two letters we will work through show Paul giving 'update instructions' to help his leadership.

It is this apprentice/disciple relationship that interests us, with Paul using the same model that Jesus did. We saw back in January that Jesus saw potential in certain people, and invited them to go with him. It is the mentor model: rabbis in those times would look for someone who might become better than themselves, and train them up to do so. It is the biblical model, which we have looked at with Moses/Joshua, Jesus and now Paul.

In all these cases the learner grows while on mission. Thats an important point for us - we want to see Kingdom Life appear across the city, and the classroom of learning for us to be involved is out there, not simply gathered together in our own church groups. We need to learn to do our discipleship/learning while on mission.

Timothy makes himself available for this, and so makes himself available for what Jesus wants to do. As a church we are blessed by the many who also make themselves available for mission & ministry in so many ways. Some deliberately only have a part-time job, for example, to be available. Such people are gold dust - their value to church and community is massive!

A few are also able to make a priority of regularly praying 'Lord - use this time as you wish', setting time & priority to leave space for Jesus to fill. This is hard to do! First because there are so many good things to be doing, which fills our schedules with activity (even 'good' activity!). Secondly because our society & culture doesn't naturally recognise or communicate the value of leaving such space.

As already said, such people are gold dust, but society doesn't communicate that - in fact I fear it screams the opposite. Imagine talking at a party and explaining that you don't work but intentionally leave space to minister, and think what reaction you would get. The fact is we need a language to describe and honour people who can do this, something like a 'community minister': an intentional volunteer who makes space for Jesus to be at work in their ordinary week. Their identity is in Christ, and that spills out into their portfolio of what they do and the space they make.

But whatever your circumstance (full-time work, part-time, parent investing in their children, volunteer etc.), a 4th habit to encourage for us all is:

| Leave Margin for Jesus - intentional space for Jesus to fill. |

This adds to our existing habits (Discipline of OFF, Share the Walk, Ever closer to Jesus). It is an invitation for Jesus to mess with your schedule! Hence the key question:

Key Qn: [IN] Where might God mess with your schedule?
Challenge: Leave space for Jesus to fill

We may not all be able to make the multi-year open-ended mission trip that Timothy embarks on, but whatever our work/parenting/volunteer status we can make a habit of leaving margin for Jesus. This is space for Jesus to bring ministry our way, making ourselves available. Timothy did this, and the result is seen in verse 5: churches are strengthened and grew in number - Kingdom Life is seen across the region.

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