"the wind blows where it wishes... so it is with everyone born of the Spirit..." John 3:8
In Eugene Peterson's delightful book entitled "The Pastor", he writes: " [I have a ] developing conviction that the most effective strategy for change, for revolution - at least on the large scale that the kingdom of God involves - comes from a minority working from the margins..." pg 16.
As with many of our DNA pieces there are some God requirements we have to settle. This is most certainly one of them. When John [the baptist] appeared to "prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight" Mark 1:3, he was in the wilderness. He was not found to be mainstream, taking the popular high road, he was not doing the white picket fence thing. He was out on the fringes of society, a voice crying out in the desert places.
We do not want to be guilty of appearing to be elitist by fighting for a remnant theology, thinking 'we are the only ones left' [as Elijah felt in 1Kings 19:14 - then God reminded him that there are actually 7000 others vs 18].
In the army of God we are all positioned by his sovereign grace. He has asked us to pioneer. We are not called to either defend a legacy or uphold a tradition, take the safe route or aim at the popular mainstream. We are fighting on the fringes I guess.
When M and I look at our lives, we have simply never been allowed to go mainstream. From getting saved into the Jesus People Movement, we should have known this was not going to be a safe, popular journey. Secondly, planting Glenridge Church in South Africa, we were viewed with much suspicion by the mainstream church - we were simply too radical. Thirdly, helping form NCMI with Dudley back in 1983 [even before there was any form or shape to the movement], we were spoken against, treated as outsiders by the church in the nation. And so I can go on. One of the great moments of truth during our sabbatical was the realization that this is the story he is writing with us. Even when I try to go mainstream, there is no joy or delight.
The church is rarely changed from the 'inside out'. History seems to indicate that the church is changed from the 'outside in' - Luther had to step outside the then known church to bring change. So too with Knox, Wesley and so we can go on.
There is no pride in this role. Read the writings of Paul and you see tears, tenderness, loneliness, exile on the run, betrayal. We do not wish that on each other, nor do we have a martyr complex [I love 'fancy', luxury... but it is not an option I suspect]. No it is simply accepting the mandate that the Father has given us to pioneer - clearing a path in the jungle for others to walk in, even letting them make a highway where we cut a pathway. To accept and embrace this journey is to walk with conviction and yet be open to 'blurred edges' - God is still on the move and there is more he wants to teach us. [I don't mean theological blurred edges. We have strong theological convictions although there always needs to be a comma after our definitions as he has so much more to teach us].
At times it is very uncomfortable to pioneer - think of the old wagons going west or ox wagons in Africa going into the hinterland. It was uncomfortable, vulnerable, scary, without certainty. A mission drove them. A conviction kept them advancing even if it cost everything. This is the journey we are on. It is in our DNA.