‘Are you prepared?’ were words spoken during prayer in the first church service I went to at Walton Baptist church at the beginning of this summer. They were issued as a challenge; and it’s a challenge that has stuck with me during a summer of thinking about just what the future might hold.
In that first service looking at Mark 1, everyone had an opportunity to draw something of what they were thinking about in relation to the passage, give their drawing a title, and then share this title with everyone else. People’s titles included ‘Leave all Behind‘, ‘Let’s go somewhere else‘, and ‘We gave up and you gave us all‘.
It struck me that the phrase ‘are you prepared?’, shared before the passage was read and thought about, actually fit well with people’s reflections on the scripture looked at.
And it strikes me now as I think about what I might like to do with my life, that a life of faith is not about building a life of security. There is sacrifice and movement and dependency and fulfilment. And there is a security of hope and peace but not of material wealth or property or of belonging to a particular place.
Am I prepared?
One of Bob Jeffrey’s Selected writings contains the following extract (source unknown, see Vincent 1969 or Shannahan 2016):
Jesus’ Movement is a Movement designed to prepare people and the world itself to act in the light of the Kingdom of God. We do not see the Kingdom, acquire it, build it, or enjoy it. What we do is join a Movement which looks for it, acts if it already existed, takes hold of its final reality and embodies bits of it now.
Faith is movement, it is not static.
Am I prepared?
On the Sunday a couple of weeks back when I was staying in Cheltenham, I went to church with my hosts Ray and Alison. where Matthew 13:44 was spoken about:
‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field’
Being committed to Christ sometimes means being prepared to be uncommitted to all else. And that is no easy thing.
But what was shared on that Sunday in Cheltenham in relation to that passage, was that it works both ways round.
Firstly, the kingdom is treasure such that we can give up all else and not lose. Even though we will not own the treasure – for possession of the field only grants access to, but not possession of, the treasure – it will be our delight.
Secondly, we are the treasure of God. He was prepared to give all that he had, to leave heaven for Earth, to suffer in ways we do not comprehend, to buy the field. And with purchase of the field he did not buy ownership of us, but only the possibility of relationship should we choose.
In the best sort of relationship, both sides freely give fully of themselves.
Here one side already, unconditionally, has.
God was and is, and will always be, prepared.
Am I prepared?