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Becoming a Community of Grace

The atmosphere of communion conveyed by a 15th century icon inspires a look at unity from a unique perspective.

For the last few days, I have had the privilege to meet once again with leaders within the global mission movement related to the World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission. We began our days of intensive interaction with a reflection of a picture by Russian iconographer, Andrei Rublev. While this kind of contemplation is a bit of a stretch for a group of Evangelicals, I have to admit I found the conversation most enlightening.

In observing this 15th century icon of the Trinity, we noted the posture of the figures. Take notice of how each head is submissively inclined toward one of the others; none of the three assumes an imposing attitude. There is an atmosphere of love, freedom, timelessness, rest, and intimate communion.

For the 17 international leaders gathered in Holland we felt the need to reflect in our deliberations the same posture depicted in the picture. We asked ourselves: How do we in the northern or western Church defer to and or affirm the Church in the south? How do older leaders pay attention to younger leaders? How do men listen to women?

At the heart of this approach is developing a community of grace.

As my friends at Leadership Catalyst ask, "How do we yield to each others strengths and protect each other in our weakness?"

So for several days our small international community sought to live out our shared commitment to listen and defer to each other. For me it was a powerful time of learning from my sisters and brothers from Korea, India, Europe, Latin America and other parts of the world.

The Global Leadership Team of the World Evangelical Alliance Missions Commission meeting in Debron, Netherlands.

As I think about this experience my mind wanders back to Canada. What if we within the Church in our nation postured ourselves as servant-listeners to others within the Body of Christ? What if mission agencies held in high esteem other agencies or local churches?. What if Churches postured themselves to learn from other congregations that may be of a different denomination, ethnic background or socio-economic status? What if young people listened intently to what is on the heart of those in the older generation? What if those who are gifted in Bible teaching and discipling others defered to the evangelists in our midst?

What would be the impact of such attitudes? Obviously, only God knows. However, I would like to believe that we would build a greater sense of unity within our community as well as see a more profound impact on our culture and the world.

Geoff Tunnicliffe is the director of global initiatives with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.




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