Dignify and Deploy 19: Kingdom for the World
‘St. John Paul II made the world consider its need for redemption, and that the need had been met in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.’ George Weigel
‘The meat is on the streets.’ John Wimber
Both Karol Wojtyla and Wimber envisioned the Church as a servant commissioned to save the world.
Wimber disliked churches that emphasized ‘teaching about’ the saving works of Jesus without doing them outside the church walls. Especially infuriating to him were complainers about ‘light-weight’ preaching--‘the milk’ of the Word, insisting they needed the ‘meat’ of Scripture. ‘You are eating the menu!’ he would shout, pointing to the Bible. ‘The meat is on the streets!’
What he meant: we come to full maturity, not through rarified Bible-teaching, but by doing the works of Jesus in the world. He meant it. In 1983, after one morning session of a 2000-person conference in San Diego, John dismissed us for lunch with the exhortation: ‘Be led by the Spirit to a person who needs your prayer. Ask that person how you might pray for him or her, then do so.’ We returned that afternoon to share joyful accounts of healing encounters with, well, 2000 people. I led a young man in prayer to renew his faith in Jesus. It was easy. He missed the One who loved Him most, and drank in Mercy like rain on dry ground! A power lunch, in truth.
John shared later about a single stay-at-home mom, Julie, who loved to pray for people. She had just moved apartments, couldn’t go to church as much as she wanted, yet longed to serve Jesus more. John taught Julie to make her home a healing center. A fine baker, she began to provide neighbors with treats and let them know of her availability for prayer and fellowship. Julie was seasoned and trustworthy; her outreach paid off. Julie’s place became one of the Vineyard’s most dynamic ‘home groups’ where many came to a saving awareness of Jesus.
While John built a church from the ground up through the ‘Julies’ of this world, St. John Paul II inherited a Church of one billion in 1978. John Paul recognized Jesus as Lord of all. And he recognized personal alienation. The cares of the world were the cares of his Church. From Soviet oppression to the sexual revolution to growing secularization to myriad clashes of state and faith around the globe—all this was Gospel ground, business of the Church, his charge. Jesus came to liberate a people living in darkness. John Paul ll understood his Church to be the Light.
Perhaps more than any other pope, John Paul, in the spirit of Vatican ll, opened the windows of the Church to the modern world. His layered philosophical mind rested on the shoulders of a statesman and on feet shod with the Gospel of peace. God gave us a Christian leader for the world.
‘That God entered the created world to redeem it has fixed once and for all the Christian meaning of the world.’ Karol Wojtyla
“Forgive us for viewing the world as a threat rather than as deep ground for the Gospel. Help us to love what You love, for ‘You so loved the world that You gave Your Son.’ Help us to think clearly and to act swiftly on Your Spirit’s lead in the world.
Come Holy Spirit, liberate what is true and beautiful from what debases us. May we not settle but aspire to the dignity of our sexual humanity. May we grow into ‘mature expressions of the gift’ by helping others do the same. Deployed to dignify, we ‘harness the John force.’”