"Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers." - VoltairE

The strange little band of the gospel

Posted by Anne Witton on Monday, November 19, 2018 Under: Move magazine
'Mission in Community' is the theme of the latest edition of Agapé's MOVE magazine. In it, the principal of my college, Rosalee Velloso Ewell, has written a profoundly challenging piece about being on mission together:

"I would suggest that one of the greatest challenges to the gospel in Western culture is independence and the individualism that goes with it. There is nothing Christ-like about being independent.

In the Bible, when independence is prized, things go badly. Adam and Eve sin so that they might have ‘free minds’ under the knowledge of good and evil; David kills Uriah so that he can have his wife; Judas leaves the disciples’ community to betray Jesus. Independence is not a valued character trait in the Bible, though our society seems to like it very much. In my eyes, this gives Christians an even greater reason to bring the gospel to all people, and to press into the question that goes against such individualism: what are we inviting people into?

I want to look at the example of one of my favourite people in the Bible, Peter. Temperamental, competitive, speak-first-think-later, Peter. Maybe you're a bit like him!

In Luke 5, having just dropped everything to follow Jesus, Peter and his friends witness the healing of two people, and are then confronted with a huge challenge, as Jesus calls the next disciple: Levi, the tax collector.

Now, in their society, culture, and religion, this was not done. Fisherman and tax collectors belonged to two very different groups; there was nothing normal about Peter and Levi being put into the same little band. Fishermen were at the bottom of the social scale: people running the family business, trying to survive under the rule of a foreign power. Though poor, they were devout Jews: they tried to live by the Mosaic laws, to go to prayers, and to respect the words of the law-keepers, the Pharisees. Fishermen were exploited by people like Levi. A tax collector was someone who served the evil empire; a corrupt official who took money from his own people to give to the Romans and pocket for himself. This man was a religious outsider, too. And yet we know that like the fisherman, Levi also accepted Jesus' invitation to follow him. If Peter wanted to be near Jesus, he would also have to be near Levi. What was Jesus thinking?

For Peter, learning to follow Jesus and be a part of his kingdom meant learning to be with those with whom he didn't get along. Sometimes, loving one's neighbour is the same as loving one's enemy.

As we get closer to Jesus, we get closer to one another. This isn't always easy. In fact, it's usually pretty hard, as Jesus is the one choosing those who join the band. Like Peter, I think we would prefer to choose our own band mates! But that's not how Jesus does things. In John 17, he prays that we would be one so that the world will know him and the Father who sent him. In John 13, he says that it is by our love for one another that we are known. This unity, this love, is a key part of the missionary calling of the people of God.

Mission in twenty-first century Britain must be about learning the hard lessons of friendship and loving one's neighbours, even when we don't like them. If we as Christians are to be united by Jesus and in Jesus, then we are going to have to be with others who are also called to be close to Jesus. He is doing the calling, not us.

We don't grow closer to Christ in a vacuum. We need one another if we are to grow deeper in our faith and to learn to love our neighbour as Jesus loves. To be faithful in mission we need to be those Christians who dare to cross the boundaries, for the sake of Jesus and the mission into which he draws us, so that the world will know the triune God."


Excerpt from a lecture given at Agapé’s National Leadership Forum in May 2018.

Dr Rosalee Velloso Ewell is the Principal of Redcliffe College and is part of the Christian community called Companions for Hope: www.companionsforhope.com. Previously, Rosalee served as Executive Director of the Theological Commission for the World Evangelical Alliance. She is the author or editor of various books and articles and lives in Birmingham with her husband, Sam, and their three children.

In : Move magazine 

Tags: mission community disciples love unity 


"loving god' commandment relationship 40th activity acts addiction adoption adultery advent aesop agapé android animation anxiety apologetics app apps argument aroma atheism audio ben folds bible bible characters bible narrative bible study bible trading cards big picture birthday blog body of christ book book review books busyness cat celebration celibacy celtic change charity chart child children christ christendom christmas chronicles church church history climate change coastguard colouring comedy commentary communications communion community compassion conference consumerism contemplation context conversation coronavirus covenant covid-19 creation creation care creativity cross crucifixtion cryptic culture cwtch daily prayer data day of the lord debate devotional diagram dictionary digital disagreement disciples discipleship discussion documentary easter ecclesiastes education effort elder brother emotion encouragement enemies environment environmentalism ethics evangelism event evidence ezekiel fable facebook fact check fair trade faith faitheism fake news father fear feast feeling fellowship feminism fiction film fireseeds flesh flourishing food foodbank forgiveness free freedom freshers fun fundraiser funny galatians game gay gay wedding genealogies generosity gifts giving god god's presence good good news gospel gospreflection grace gratitude great commission green growth guitar hagar health heart heaven hebrews history hoarding holy biscuit holy spirit home homosexuality hope hopelessness hospitality house hub humanism humour hymn identity in individualism infographic infographics inheritance insurance internet interview interviews ios jesus joel joke jonah joseph joy justice kindness kingdom kingdom of god law leaflet lectio divina legacy lennox lesbian levite lgbtq liberty library literal literature liturgy living out lockdown lord’s love lust magazine map mark mark's materialism matthew maturity meal meditation meditations memory mental health ministry mission missionaries moody moral morality move murray music nation new creation new year newcomers news non-fiction north east old testament online outreach palm sunday parable passover peace pentecost persecution perspective philosophy photo photography piano picture this thought podcast poem poetry political correctness pool night possessions post-christendom poverty power praise prayer prayer requests preaching presentation presents priest princess anne priorities prodigal son productivity project prophecy protection provision psalm publicity puzzle questions quiz quotes reading rebellion reconciliation redemption reference reflection relationship relationships relativism religion remembrance repentance rescue resource resources rest restoration resurrection retreat review reviews riches right and wrong royalty rules rush sabbath sacrifice same-sex attraction sarah scholarship science screens scripture scripture engagement secularism seed self esteem sermon sermon on the mount sex sexuality shalom sharing faith shopping showcase significance silence simplicity sin slavery smell social social action social media society software solitude song songs sonship soularium sources speaking spiritual gifts spirituality sproul spurgeon stations of the cross stats stewardship stone story stott student student life students study suffering supper support support discovery talk tech technology temple tft thank you thanksgiving theology time toby tools top trumps trading cards training transformation translation treasure treasure hunt trivia true freedom trust truth unity update utilities value video vine visual walk war wealth website websites wesley witnessing women words world worldview worry worship worth writing wrong wycliffe youtube ywam

Living Out is registered UK Charity no. 1165572
The Baptist Union is Charity no. 249635