by Fred May
Christ, when speaking on the state of His Church in the last days, said the following – “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.” (Matthew 25:1 NIV) He said that while we’d all be in a state of semi-readiness at the time, one-half of the church would be somewhat more prepared for His coming – “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.” (Matthew 25:10 NIV) If oil represents the inspiring presence and influence of the Holy Spirit, the other significant part of the parable relates to the fact that the oil was meant to be purchased. However, it’s interesting to note that He does not specify the currency or price required for its procurement. In light of what appears to be an intentional omission Christ does seem to make it clear that buying the extra oil would take time; too much time in fact before the delayed rendezvous with the Bridegroom. The thought here is that the most valuable currency mankind has been granted is time. Its intrinsic value, relative to life’s brevity, is extremely high. For this reason, God values our time more highly than any other gift or offering we could bring Him. And since God is love, He places special merit on our time invested in relationship with Him, and with each other.
Therefore, it’s with great confidence that I invite you to share a special time of fellowship and worship with us at our annual Convergence 2016 conference here in the Cape. This year the format is somewhat different in that we’re not inviting guest speakers. We hope to resume that tradition again next year. But before then we have identified the need to tailor the conference programme somewhat for a more efficient and effective utilisation of our limited time together. We’re working toward establishing a conference format/template applicable to all other similar events. We’re hoping to have the flow sufficiently scripted to make it cohesive in terms of overarching theme, focus and desired outcomes while, at the same time, preserving much of the expressive latitude our participants have enjoyed in the past. Also, it may be the last time we have an opportunity to present our members with a clear, cohesive understanding of who we are, and where we’ve come to, as a movement at this point in time. Unfortunately, we’ve neglected to place sufficient emphasis on our vision and values in the past and consequently urgent need exists to bring correction to this oversight.
We deem it imperative to initiate the conversation on our need to migrate from the spiritual space we currently occupy, to a somewhat different one. At present, we find ourselves in a space largely informed by prevailing culture and its religious traditions. We’re in need of a clearer distinction between ‘Gospel’ and ‘culture’. We need to migrate to apostolic space as a matter of urgency. And what this space looks like is the burning issue we need to engage humbly and prayerfully. The book of Acts provides us with valuable glimpses into this glorious prospect, but what the journey there would be like for us is where we need to start. While this challenge applies to the Body of Christ on the whole, we as a movement have need to discover what this would mean here and now. There’s a historic, sovereign move of God afoot globally, and I firmly believe that God would have us be a part of it. That’s why the Convergence conversation this time around promises to be a deeply significant and inspiring one.
The theme for this year, BEING ONE, speaks into the two sub-themes of ‘oneness with Christ’ and also ‘oneness in Christ’, with the latter stemming from the former. In promoting our unity in Christ we hope to leave every delegate with a clear perspective on this truth from a biblical perspective, namely that it’s a fait accompli, meaning it’s something irrevocably established by Christ on the Cross. Just as a father dealing with squabbling and bickering amongst his children will hardly feel the need to convince them of the fact that they are in fact family, we believe Our Father too, would rather engage us in conversation about what this reality of being family, being one, implies in practice.
Therefore we’ll be looking closely at what being one with Christ would mean. We’ll focus on being one with the mind of Christ; being one with the heart of Christ; being one with the hands of Christ and being one with the feet of Christ. We’re believing God the Holy Spirit for a collective experience of emotional-spiritual ‘unveiling’ as it were. Our aim is to foster an intentional focus on, and vision of, the unifying image of Christ. After all, we can only aspire after, or develop a desire for what we see. The key to embracing true unity lies in the revelatory experience of the image of Christ – “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18 BOOKS) God’s ultimate desire for us is not so much that we accomplish significance or greatness but rather that we become like Christ. The Holy Spirit was not sent to empower us to ‘do’ witnessing, but rather that we ‘be’ witnesses of Who He is and of what He does; where being spiritual family equates to emulating Christ instead of pursuing personal ambition – “God planned that those he had chosen would become like his Son. In that way, Christ will be the first and most honoured among many brothers and sisters.” (Romans 8:29 NIRV)
I would encourage us all to do our utmost to not miss this appointment with Christ and this part of His Body. As a note addressed especially to our more adventure-loving members, I’d ask that we make an intentional break from the narcissistic leaven pervading contemporary culture that has us loving a pursuit of leisure/pleasure more than God. This idolatry amounts to a betrayal of the image of Christ. Consider this a fatherly exhortation to confirm our commitment to Christ, over the pursuit of pleasure. Instead of continuing to treat God as an add-on to our lives, let us demonstrate our desire for Him by rather cancelling or postponing conflicting commitments in lieu of conference attendance. Let’s make our diaries and budgets a reflection of our eternal priorities and values. Let us all accept the Father’s invitation into His presence and lend the occasion the blessing of our much-valued presence and participation. See you there.
Love in Christ,