by Annwen Stone
In our last post on the Shema triangle John Flowers described how there are many voices that we can listen to as a disciple, but it’s ABBA’s voice we have to continually tune into on our journey if we are to grow. A bit like an old transistor radio where you have to turn the dial and tune in to just the right spot to listen to the right station. It’s the same with Abba’s voice. There is static, resistance and interference in the atmosphere and we need to tune out of that crackle to hear just what He is saying and Him alone.
The way we do that is through being part of a discipling community. This is the second point on the Shema triangle. The “We/Me”.
True Biblical community is led by someone in delegated authority, someone released and accountable to the local church. This community is the sounding board for us to test the voice of Abba. Biblical community is not just about connection, a place where we build peer fellowship, but transformation. It’s a place where we are challenged to grow. In order to be transformed our minds have to be renewed. Paul tells us that the way that happens isn’t by memorizing scripture but by being confronted with truth. And through that confrontation changing how we live to walk in the right direction.
Heidi Baker says a lot “Love has to look like something”. Biblical love involves discipline. Not punishment. Jesus took the punishment we deserve, but the Father continues in the new covenant to discipline us, to form us into His Son’s likeness. Love does not look like cozy hugs and surface level conversations; it looks like blindspots being revealed so that you can live out of bondage and step into the fullness of life that Christ calls us to. This kind of growth comes through tension and conflict. There is no other way. Even in our physical bodies the way our muscles grow when we train them is to break them down to be built up.
Last week I felt like the Father challenged me to include high-intensity workouts into my running schedule to protect myself from injury. I have not done one of these for weeks. I was so sore I could barely bend, sit or walk 2 days later. But the tearing and pain meant that the next time I ran my time was better and I ran further. It’s no different in our spiritual lives. Being confronted in love is necessary for us to face things we may have had in us for years and never properly dealt with.
Let me give you a recent example. I have battled with fear and subsequently control all my life. Mainly but not exclusively fear of man. I have had significant breakthroughs compared to where I used to be, but recently my community approached me and gave me truth. They approached me with the truth that I was still living in fear and control, and because it was sin, it was impacting me and others. Sin only causes death. It was warping the voice of Abba and affecting my sense of self. Let’s just be clear, truth sets us free but it also hurts. It doesn’t feel nice and cozy it be told you have sin in you, especially by people you love and respect. BUT if we trust that we don’t have the monopoly on Abba’s voice, then we have a choice on how we handle the painful truth. A lot of people at this point of the Shema triangle opt out. They find the confrontation too hard. They justify themselves and defend their position and either back away from the communal relationships completely or just hide and don’t deal with what the Father is trying to bring up for healing. Basically they step into offense. BUT if they choose into the transformation journey and accept the cold hard truth and walk in faith towards the Father then grace is accessed. Grace that brings deep healing and heavenly fruit.
It takes Grit to walk this journey. This place on the triangle feels like a wilderness. It’s a place where all the false comforts and worldly coping strategies are exposed. It’s where practical steps of faith to walk away from old patterns and into new life take courage and persistence (which by the way is what true repentance actually looks like). If it’s so uncomfortable why would I do it I hear you ask? Why would I choose in? Because it’s the walk of Jesus and because it’s what it looks like to bear heavenly good fruit.
In my own life I am carrying more peace than ever before. Not because my circumstances are easy, not because prophetic words are fulfilled, not because life is perfect but because through the love and wrestle of community I am walking closer to Abba than I’ve ever known.