For several weeks now, I’ve been reading the gospels with a desire to glean from the life of Jesus as He did life with his twelve disciples.
Isn’t it interesting that several of the disciples were fishermen when they were called by Jesus to leave it all behind and follow Him?
My husband loves to watch shows like ‘Gold Rush’, ‘Alaskan Bush People’, and a show about deep sea fishing (although I can’t remember the name). I’ve watched this fishing show with him on occasion. Something I noticed is that fishermen who do what they do for a living are rough characters. To put it nicely, let’s suffice it to say that they aren’t politically correct and could possibly be seen as rather offensive to some. And Jesus chose fishermen! That in and of itself could preach.
My point being, they didn’t have it all together when they were called. Much like each of us. We came to the Lord because we heard the calling of the Father, drawing us to the Savior. We recognized our need and responded to His call, but He called us first. He loved us first and we responded.
What struck me the most was the level of community that they walked in… together. They really did life together. Jesus saw everything about His disciples. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Without going into all the details, we know that there was doubting Thomas; Peter cut off the high priest’s servant’s ear, and denied Christ after declaring that he would be willing to die with Him; Judas was a thief who betrayed Jesus; and Peter, James, and John argued over who would be the greatest. Sounds to me like Jesus had His hands full.
It blows my mind that He walked with them daily, teaching them, loving them, doing life with them. I often read about the ministry of Jesus and imagine myself in His shoes. What if it was me walking daily with the disciples. How would I respond or react? Would I have the patience to walk alongside them? Would I be able to love them? But even deeper than that, if I were one of those twelve disciples, would I have been able to stick with the process of discipleship? When things got testy, as I’m sure they did… I mean, just imagine sitting around talking to Jesus and Peter being so quick to speak says, with boldness, ‘I will never deny you.’ To which Jesus responds, ‘before the rooster crows three times, you will deny me.’ I can only imagine how intense that moment was. I wonder if Peter thought about it when he laid on his bed at night. I think I would have.
There were many of those ‘intense’ moments. Moments when Jesus saw through to the very core of who these men were. He saw the motives and the intentions of the heart, regardless of how their words sounded. He ‘knew’ them… really knew them, yet He loved them deeply and unconditionally.
Would I be able to love someone that I knew was going to betray me and hand me over to be brutally murdered? Jesus did. More importantly, can we allow others to really see us and hang in there even when it gets ‘intense’?
I think sometimes we’re okay with ‘me and Jesus’ when we have learned of His heart towards us. We trust Him to lead us. We believe that He has our absolute best interest at heart. We believe He loves us. The problem comes in when we learn that Jesus never intended for us to do life outside of community. This is where it gets touchy.
Doing life with people is scary, especially when we are in close community. We start to see the good, the bad, and the ugly in each other. Others start to see ‘me’ and quite frankly, that can be an incredibly scary thing. It can feel unsafe, unnerving, and even intense at times.
Life hasn’t always been kind. As a matter of fact, it has often been cruel, and because of that, we have learned to live distanced from people… never fully trusting and continually guarded.
The only problem is that Jesus wants to bring healing, wholeness, and fullness to each of us and there is a huge part of this that comes by walking in close relationship with each other. The question is… will we embrace it?
I can tell you in all honesty, I see a church rising, that is healthy and whole because each member is becoming whole. She is in relationship with the Trinity first and with others second. She is coming out of the shadows and embracing true community. She feels vulnerable and afraid.
I’ve heard the fears, the doubts, and the questions because many of them have been my own. The Father has been at work removing each brick that has built the wall of protection. Each brick has a name… rejection, fear, distrust, doubt, unworthiness… the protective mechanisms were okay for a season, but now it’s time for them to come down.
The church will never see her full potential hiding behind walls. We need each other. It’s a body of many parts and each part functions better with the other parts, not separately. Likewise, each individual will not see their full potential until they are rightly connected to His body.
Is there risk involved? You bet! But the reward is far greater.
She is coming out and allowing herself to be seen. She will mature and grow quickly in community. Not everyone will be united together in the same community… there will be many, but we will still be ONE BODY. Many are already connected where they need to be, many are looking for their place of connection, and many are coming out of the shadows just the way they are looking for the place they can be loved, accepted, embraced, and nurtured to wholeness.
There will be a resurgence of church growth amongst believers as they come out ready to re-engage, ready to be whole, and ready to walk shoulder to shoulder with others through the process. There will be accountability like never before and a camaraderie like we have never seen. Soldiers committed to the Lord and to each other with nothing held protected behind walls. It’s beautiful to behold.
People will find others that will truly ‘see’ them and love them. Just like Jesus saw His twelve and loved them. Herein lies the powerful church. The world will know us because of our love for one another. No longer isolated and separate, but together and unified. Whole. Functioning as One body with many parts. It’s time for the verse, ‘ No greater life than this… One who lays down his life for a friend.’
We will follow the example of Jesus in our relationships and we are becoming One, just as Jesus prayed, “Father, make them ONE, even as we are one.’ This Oneness will be the net that holds the great harvest. The unified, whole, and powerful army of the Lord. His church, radiant and shining brightly for the world to see. His heartbeat… His desire… Amen.
Deidre Gaines is a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ with the Lost Creek Church of God in West Virginia. Her main passion is prophetic intercession and intimacy with Christ, as well as seeing a generation come alive to prayer that leads to a deep, abiding relationship with the person of the Holy Spirit.
With the belief that every believer can minister, there is a strong emphasis on training and discipleship to empower a generation to find their God-given talents and purpose and then be thrust into the harvest field. Hands on discipleship through relationship, deliverance, preaching/teaching, writing, and itinerant ministry are key elements of the ministry.
Deidre and her husband Richard reside in Lost Creek, WV and lead the Awakening, a ministry to believers and nonbelievers alike. They have three grown children and two beautiful granddaughters.