‘Don’t jump the gun’.
When someone acts before the proper or appropriate time. To act too soon when we’re not ready or before the time is right. ‘You’re jumping the gun!’ –‘ hang on a minute, not so fast, hold back, wait!’
The phrase is derived from athletics of course. In sprinting races when the starter pistol goes off to start the race but an athlete leaves the blocks just milliseconds before the shot is fired. In many races only one false start is allowed and then you’re disqualified. Jumping the gun is a big deal.
I’m an activist by nature and I love to be busy and to be doing. As a Pastor in a local church I’m keen to mobilise people for mission, and inspire people to get out there. After all Jesus said ‘Go’ didn’t he? Go and make disciples. Go and be bringers of the Kingdom, making disciples with your words and your lives.
But recently God has been whispering to me ‘don’t jump the gun’.
In John 20 the resurrected Jesus appears to the disciples as they were locked away together in fear.
John 20: 19-22
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’
This passage is one of commissioning. Jesus sends the disciples out as the Father sent him. And He says that to us – I am sending you. We’re told to go.
But at the heart of the disciples’ commission is a crucial gift which will enable them to fulfil the task that is before them. Jesus doesn’t just send, he imparts the resources they need for the job. His life giving Spirit.
There is a direct link here with the command we’re given to be sent out and the gift of the Holy Spirit that is given first. And Jesus doesn’t want the disciples to jump the gun.
Receiving is critical for mission
The times we live in call for our churches to be bold in experimenting for the gospel. To be courageous in new ways of thinking about church and to rethink what it means to make disciples in our culture. Mission is critical, for sure.
But how many of us are quick to hear the commission to go for God but slow to obey the command to receive from God?
If we embrace the challenge to go for Jesus we also need to hear the command to receive from Jesus. ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ he says, first.
And the rub is that receiving does not come naturally to us. Even if you can’t identify with me in my activist nature, then you’ll probably agree that it is still much easier to give out than receive.
Receiving is a discipline.
I ask myself these questions:
- How can I fulfil the call of God without regularly receiving His life giving power?
- How can I minister to others without giving God plenty of space to minister to me?
Learning to be with Jesus.
Enjoying His presence and His filling before any activity.
Soaking new initiatives or ideas in prayer.
Not seeking our good ideas but God’s power and enabling.
We live in such challenging times culturally that the church needs believers who will be bold and courageous in their discipleship, seeking to do and be church in new and creative ways. We certainly need to ‘go’.
But let’s not jump the gun.
We have a God who breathes. And there is life giving power in the breath of God.
As a do-er I need to be a receiver first.