In a world of mega-church celebrity leaders, where status and strength are esteemed, there runs concurrently a steady stream of people walking away from the popular church culture. Rather than walking into an alternate realm of power and position, they walk into a desolate exile.
Many have found themselves on this journey not knowing if there is an ultimate purpose, often not even knowing if God is a part of this detour from the well-worn path of christendom.
We came from a world where we operated in our strengths. We were valued for what we had to offer – our gifts, talents, energy, vision – whatever we could contribute. Looking back on our participation, we gave it all and then some.
That is what the church needs, right? The movers and shakers, the visionary leaders, the mighty men and women of God who can accomplish His purposes, those with the anointing to build and plant.
When we operate in our strengths, we operate from a position of power. We are the ministers. We are the ones who give. Ministry is always focused downward. Sure I will let you pray for me, but it is not likely I will be vulnerable with you.
Perhaps the purpose of exile is to transform us into people who have been delivered of our own sufficiency to the point of realizing our weakness. Maybe we are being prepared to function in a way that ministry among the body is mutual so that we can also learn from and receive from the least among us.
In order to really be with the poor, the weak, and the marginalized, we must learn to walk alongside them, not distancing ourselves with the power of our strength. This doesn’t come easily or automatically for us. It may require an extended time of deprogramming from the values of the culture of empire.
After enough time in the desert, we come to the place where we are spent, we are needy. It may feel like we no longer have anything to offer. We are finally willing to receive from others rather than always being in the role of provider. Allowing ourselves to be known in our weakness is difficult and humbling.
Could it be that exile is necessary for our development in becoming incarnational?
“They are blessed who realize their spiritual poverty,
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.”