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A Life of Love

Encouragement towards the Reorientation of Daily Life towards Personal Obedience to the Spirit of God

Ideal for those well acquainted with our thought process at Ammi Ruhama Community

Typically, this kind of article is the one the reader clicks on to read what the author thinks are the definitive Christian disciplines that will establish the believer’s heart in the Word and build an impenetrable fortress of faith in the heart and life of the individual. But, if you read Reoriented in Love (insert link) then you know that it is my intention to place that particular burden squarely on the shoulders of the mature believers among the people of God who have received mercy. So let’s get started.

The Icebreaker

Those who have heard my testimony know that my heart and passion for discipleship have lead me to do some rather interesting things. Chief among those actions was to invite a homeless man I had known for only a month to camp out in my garden for a week while we helped him find accommodation. That act in and of itself may sound like an exotic occurrence that would only happen on the bleeding edge of the mission field, a boasting in my own virtues if you will. But, let me assure you that it started out as a simple act of obedience to make disciples of Jesus. “Have you received the Spirit of God?”, “Has anyone ever showed you in the Word how to truly live?”, “If you would like, I would love to do that for you.” These are the two questions and the offer I gave to a certain man when I met him in a church service in Armagh that led to him camping in my garden a month later. He had received Christ as his Saviour and therefore the Spirit of God, and no, no one had taken him through the Word to show him how to live, and yes, he would be delighted if I would do that for him! We met in my home several times a week for the next month where we started out by exchanging testimonies and then by going through the Word rather immethodically and letting it spark conversation after conversation that enabled me to get to know him better and for him to continually surrender his past and present life to the Spirit of God. It came about that because he had not registered as homeless in our city that he was being kicked out of the homeless shelter and had nowhere to go. We both immediately got to work looking for a short term place for him to stay and when it became apparent that no one else was going to take him in, my wife suggested that he pitch a tent in our garden. So, he spent the last of his money on a tent and supplies and he pitched his tent at the end of our garden. When he was in the garden he sent emails to the leaders of the churches he had been visiting for the past year, I sent emails to the leaders I knew and made phone call after phone call but no one would take him in on a longer term basis. It was a time of immense shock for me to see the body fail so spectacularly at loving this man. Our discipleship relationship has since looked like a lot of things over the years, sometimes meeting every day like in the week that he spent with us, and sometimes being absent for three or more months at a time while the Spirit worked on the both of us. But inevitably the Spirit would put him on my heart or me on his to send a WhatsApp and he and I will catch up and bless one another with what God has been doing in each of our lives. We are also at the point where we can both share our frustrations with the state of the body of Christ and how we could possibly help change what we experience on a daily basis. From the moment I met him, he has been a helpful indicator of the health of the body as he tells me how people have and are currently treating him in each of the bodies he visits on a regular basis. It implanted in me a desire to see a stark change come to the body of Christ. It started to peel back the veil on the Symbiotic Organisations who called themselves churches but were not acting like the people of God who have received mercy.

I tell you this story, because it is at the root of why ARC exists today. I listened for the Spirit of God and did what I thought were small acts of obedience to His voice, but were still too big for most to join in. There was one organisation who ended up taking him in but even then it wasn’t six months until he was back in the homeless shelter; spiritually stronger for our continued discipleship but on the backswing economically. Praise be to God who provided a private place for him to move, a job in Belfast and eventually his own private rental home. What part I and my wife played was a part of following step by step instructions and all glory is to God who made straight his paths. This is all we can expect of ourselves and those we would see raised up to full reproducing maturity in Christ. That we would be able to take those that the world has rejected and raise them up to Christ.

After all of this, I thought that I had to reproduce the circumstances surrounding my friend’s rise out of homelessness. I thought maybe a homeless ministry would be what God would want us to start, but God impressed on my heart that if we start a homeless ministry then it will be one more ministry that believers can outsource their obedience to and not take in the next homeless person He asks them to take in. He then opened my eyes to all of the other ways we make it so that the everyday believer thinks that they do not have to be personally obedient to the Spirit of God. Personal gospel fluency, personally giving to the poor and needy, personally providing a place to stay to those in need, personally loving one another, personally taking care of orphans and widows, personally obeying God in all of life. These are the kinds of things that the body needs to be trained to do and which we must stop doing for them. We do not need another creation seminar or another right to life rally, or another pep talk about purity until we have made significant progress in equipping, edifying, encouraging and reorienting the body towards personal obedience to the Holy Spirit of God in all of life.

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