Friday, March 6, 2009

Leadership Summit is off to a good start. Over 100 of our top leaders have arrived in Ericeira Portugal to enjoy four days of interactive learning. Michael Frost, our keynote speaker, gave a compelling word last night regarding the Relational Capacity of Mission; his premise being that our missional effectiveness is directly proportional to our relational capacity. Our focal passage for the evening came from Acts 8, the story of Philip's encounter on the road to Gaza. Mike made the following points:

1. Philip obeyed God, and obedience to God always leads us into relationship with others. In Philips case, God didn't ask him to leave Samaria just for the sake of a trip to Gaza. God asked Philip to leave in order to bring him into relationship with someone on the road to Gaza. Frost stated, "Follow God, and you'll end up spending the day with an Ethiopian."

2. Philip engaged in relational proximity. God brings us into relationship with others. We commit to the kind of closeness that places our lives next to theirs. For Philip this literally meant getting into the chariot with the Ethiopian. We must consider the value of "sitting next to" those we encounter, day after day, dealing with their humanity and offering grace to their depravity. Like a chemical reaction, bringing God's grace near to man's depravity leads to a spiritual explosion of life, forgiveness, restoration, and joy. Proximity leads to this kind of combustion.

3. Philip moved into relationship with a high degree of expectation. He was confident that, upon hearing the word of God, the Ethiopian would respond with faith. If we believe in the world to come - a world full of God's love, justice, and peace - then we should offer anticipatory foretastes of this world to those we encounter. In other words, let OUR love, justice, grace and peace introduce others to what they can expect fully in the presence of God. Like a movie trailer, our lives should compel people to desire the rest of the show.

All of these responses demonstrated that Philip had a high capacity for relationship. The Lord led him into relationship with the Ethiopian, and Philip embraced the opportunity with gusto. May we be as quick to embrace those we encounter today. Increase our capacity, O Lord, we pray.

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