Dear People Who Keep Company with God,
Recently I was asked to share with a group of ministry school students some of the greatest lessons of my Christian life. Immediately, I thought of a teaching I heard over thirty years ago about the life of John Mark, the author of the Gospel of Mark. This has been and continues to be a life message for me. The heart of this message was about how John Mark was associated with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:4-5), his deserting the mission (Acts 13:13), his being the source of the split between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:36-40), how Peter raised him up as a spiritual son (I Peter 5:12-13), and finally, how Paul not only came to value John Mark, but actually needed him (II Timothy 4:10-11).
The main points of the message were that each of us should be discipled and we need to have a heart to disciple others. At the time I was very young in the Lord, but also very hungry spiritually so I set out to develop relationships with older believers with the hope that I would one day become valued and useful in the kingdom of heaven.
As I have grown older I have less and less older believers around me to regularly speak into my life. I do have some men that I consider to be on a peer level that can and do speak into my life often. I have also had the opportunity over the years to come alongside many younger men and help them along the way on their spiritual journey. In the past few years I have been blessed to actually begin to be a spiritual father to some younger men; this is a great responsibility and honor (I Corinthians 14:15). I believe this is a fruit of having a heart to be a spiritual son myself for over thirty years.
In the church we tend to think in terms of a structure of leadership, and it is true that God has given the church the gift of the five fold ministry. This is necessary for the church to accomplish the kingdom purposes of the corporate body of Christ on the earth.
1 Corinthians 12:28
28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. However, it is in the context of the kingdom of God that we come into the revelation that we are sons and daughters. The revelation of God as our Father is a kingdom revelation, the more we know Him as our Father, the more we will be secure and settled as sons and daughters. It is out of this revelation that we can bring heaven to earth.
In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The church should be a place where we can live out our relationship with the Father and our spiritual siblings. When the church becomes simply a place to go to worship, hear preaching, use our gifts and so on we have failed to grasp our fundamental calling as a family that is designed to demonstrate and release heaven on earth.
One of the great fruits of the river of the Holy Spirit (Revelation 22:1-2) that I have personally experienced in this last year is having spiritual sons begin to speak into my life. This is very rewarding and enriching, it is a true affirmation that I have been given a place of honor in their lives as a spiritual father. I feel like I have come full circle, back to that place I was over thirty years ago, where I am once again hungry to know the Father and I am learning a whole new aspect of what it means to be one of His sons (I John 2:12-14).
I want to encourage you that the Holy Spirit really is the one who brings true spiritual relationships. Apart from Him, what I am communicating to you never works, at best it will be formal discipleship relationships that consume your time and energy yet bears very little eternal fruit, and at worst it can become cult like and destructive.
2 Corinthians 13:14
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
The word communion in the Greek language is: koinonia (koy-nohn-ee’-ah); from NT:2844; partnership, i.e. (literally) participation, or (social) intercourse, or (pecuniary) benefaction May we all grow in the partnership, participation and benefaction (support, investment, backing, aid) of the Holy Spirit that is so freely being offered to us in this hour.
Many Blessings, BW