I’m sure you have heard many people talk about the concept of “six degrees of separation.” It is the idea that all living things in the world are six or even fewer steps away from each other. Our connectedness to one another is really not that far away, or in other words, the world is shrinking. This surely seems true in the world of global missions.
In a few weeks we’ll be “connecting” at the 29th annual PTM Conference. It will be an opportunity to come together for a common purpose to be encouraged and also to be equipped to shepherd God’s global flock.
Our theme this year speaks to the issue of the need for constant connection. Of the many illustrations of the relationship between God and His children, the vine and the branch illustrates this complete dependency and constant connectedness. The branch must depend on the vine even more than the sheep depends on the shepherd or even the child that depends on the father. For some reason as Jesus was about to leave His disciples, He wanted them to embrace and understand the importance of the connectedness between the vine and the branches. This was a needed encouragement! His promise was that He would “remain” united to them and they to Him…just as the branches are connected to the vine.
Jesus emphasizes this “mutual relationship” in the John 15 passage. I believe that Jesus uses this illustration with His disciples to assure them of His continued connectedness…even as He prepares to depart from them. “Abide in Me and I in you”…that sounds like connectedness to me!
I was reading in Joshua 5 this morning where Joshua was about to launch out and fight the battle of Jericho. It says that as he drew near to Jericho, “he looked up and saw a man” who was standing before him. Joshua asked a normal question to this man, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” The mysterious Man doesn’t really answer Joshua’s question. He just says, “No…but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come,” Joshua immediately fell on his face and worshiped the Lord. It would seem to me that there was an instant connectedness between these two. Joshua’s response comes from a heart desire to “abide” in the presence of the Commander. Joshua’s total submission to the Commander shows that he knows who is really in charge. The question here wasn’t if the Lord was on Joshua’s side; the proper question was if Joshua was on the Lord’s side.
God calls us to “abide” in Him…our response to His invitation is significant. His presence with us is guaranteed. Yet am I “Present in His Presence?”
My prayer for us as we gather together in Black Mountain, NC, is that we will not only enjoy the beauty of being connected as brothers and sisters in Christ, but that we will bask in the wonder of our mutual connectedness to the God of the Universe through the gifts of grace poured out to us through His Son.
written by Perry Bradford
Perry and his wife Sandi began their missionary journey in 1980 with Wycliffe Bible Translators. In 1994 they returned to the US after 10 years of service in Papua New Guinea to join Barnabas International. Perry currently serves as the Executive Director of Barnabas, and is a member of the PTM Planning Committee.