Over the past month our church has been exploring the emerging identity of our community. We’ve aptly named three components of our new rhythm as: INTERSECT-CONNECT-CONVERGE (or Out-In-Up).
This post raises this question: how do we ‘Converge’ with God?
When we think of ways to Converge or ‘get to know God’, or ‘draw near to God’, we usually think of things like: go to church consistently, listen to sermons, join a Bible study or small group, take a discipleship class, read your Bible everyday. These things have something in common, they’re all about knowledge. Learning is important, but we have reduced our ideas on how to converge with God to things we do individually at home, as a church for a mere one hour on Sunday, or in a classroom. It’s as if the more we know about God (how much of the Bible we understand for example) the closer we’ll be to God.
That presupposes that the more I know the closer I should be to God. That’s of course rarely the case in practice. Information tends to inoculate. For most people I know connecting with God is a struggle, unattainable, or too complex.
Solution? More structured time isn’t the answer. But perhaps a more holistic pursuit of spiritual formation within the context of community is the missing component. Or to put it simply, connecting with God is less about what you know and more about how you, with others, discover about God.
Converging with God are the moments where, for those who are at the very start of their journey discovering who God is, inexplicably find what they’re looking for. Converging for those who’ve been working on their faith with Jesus for some time is a journey too, one that seeks moments where their lives collide with God in profound ways even in the most mundane and simple moments.
If you were a disciple of Jesus you practiced a rhythm of spiritual formation that lead you to discover Jesus thought religious knowledge alone was not the goal (Matt 7:21-23). Rather one was judged by God by whether they lived the life and walked the talk as they went about daily existence (James 1:22). Not only that, Jesus routinely sent out his followers for the sake of mission in wildly under-equipped states (Matt 10:5 just recruited, little training, high danger). The disciples would return from their tasks and experiences with questions and in those moments they tended to be far more open to input and teaching.
What does that mean for our own formation to connect with Converge moments?
Converge moments manifest and become evident as we participate with a community on mission.
That doesn’t mean God doesn’t work through learning or through prayer, quite the contrary. But the bulk of the time spent with disciples where they converged with Jesus occurred with Jesus! Today, instead of Jesus we have the great Intercessor (the Spirit of God, which is a confusing piece of theology that only makes sense if you’re familiar with the whole Christian conversation). But that’s not all, the love of Jesus is manifest not through a book (there is no regenerative power, or any power for that matter in the Bible), but rather through people.
All the books in the world, even the Bible, can do little to supplant the necessary foundation of a loving community in pursuit of the unfolding Kingdom in our midst. That’s far better than years of bible study in my opinion. I’d rather figure out what it means to love with others who are trying to struggle with the same pursuit.