On Sunday night we shared our first vision talk (you can catch up here) and now it’s time to ask: what could this mean for you?
We shared how, 2 years ago, we committed to leaving our life as we knew it to move to Barking Riverside and start a new worshipping community here. The first thing we did was to spend time listening, getting to know the area and people here, and asking God: what are you doing here? What do you want to see?
What came out of that time is expressed in our vision – this simple statement:
Starting at Barking Riverside, we want to see the UK thriving with Jesus at the heart of every person and every place.
Thriving doesn’t mean having everything we want, never having trouble, or always being successful. Thriving isn’t about our circumstances alone. Thriving isn’t something we can earn or make happen. No thriving is a gift, something we receive. To thrive is to live life with Jesus, to hand ourselves over to him, and in that place to find he fills and changes us from the inside out – right from the heart. To thrive is to find ourselves forgiven and brought back into relationship with God, to rediscover our identity as children of God, to find we have a purpose that we are made for, and to discover our hearts increasingly full of what the Bible describes as ‘fruit of the Spirit’ – love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, self-control. And this kind of life lasts for eternity.
Let me ask you a question:
Are you thriving?
What difference would it make to yourself and those around you if you were?
Look at that list of ‘fruits of the Spirit’, think about the thoughts and feelings that shape you through the day, about your relationships. Then think about this question:
Are others thriving through you?
Now, here’s where I have to come clean. All this talk about thriving is not actually the main point. Our vision, God’s vision, isn’t that you and me really want to thrive. No, our vision and God’s, is that you and me really want Jesus.
You see, thriving isn’t something we can earn or make happen. It’s actually a gift. It’s a gift Jesus gives and one that we receive when we seek something else – when we seek Him. Thriving, full life, knowing our identity, having purpose, our hearts being changed – these things all come as the fruit of putting Jesus first, of giving ourselves completely to him. And as we do the life Jesus pours into us overflows from us to affect the people and places around us.
This is what Jesus describes when he says:
Come to me all who are thirsty, and I will give you water to drink. And out of the believer’s heart will flow streams of living water.John 7:37-38
And in this statement he’s also describing how we come nearer, how we start to thrive.
It all begins with…
First, thirst. Do you want more? Can you see a need in you or even for those around you and you know you don’t have it all in yourself? That’s thirst. That’s good. It’s where we begin.
Then, come. Come to Jesus. Come as you are and from where you are. You might know nothing about Jesus, not even be sure he exists, be sceptical, or you may have lost a love you once had for him. Just come.
Talk to him – pray (it can be quiet where no one can here you except him) – ask Jesus to show himself to you. Ask questions. Read the bible – start with Matthew’s Gospel at the beginning of the New Testament. Ask questions from someone who knows Him – get in touch with us, speak to a friend. Just begin to come and you will find that Jesus is already seeking for you.
Then, commit. I’ll tell you now, the life Jesus gives is free, but it isn’t cheap. It cost Jesus everything, even dying on the cross in our place. And receiving the gift of life from him comes as we surrender our everything to him. Jesus said that whoever holds onto their life will lose it, but whoever lays down their life will gain it. This is what is symbolised in Baptism – the age old act that marks becoming a Christian – it represents dying to our old life and being born into a new life with Jesus as Lord and His will over ours.
What this commitment looks like is what we’ll explore in the next post. But why would we make such a comitment?
Simply because, once we have tasted of Jesus, once we see Him for who He is – Lord and Saviour – then everything else pales in comparison. There really is no life without Him at the heart.
Are you thirsty enough to come? You never know where it may lead.