As I think about Lewis, I am challenged by what Rev. Jack Macarthur said in an interview about Duncan Campbell. He said he did not impose his style on Lewis, thinking, “we will help out these poor Lewis folk with bringing them our ways of doing things.” No, you would have thought after he had been there a few weeks that he was from Lewis, he so honoured the ways of the church there. He identified himself with their spirituality, to use another phrase from Jack MacArthur. What a wonderful spirit. I want to go to Lewis in that same spirit: honouring what God is doing there right now, not wanting in any way at all to take over and impose my ways or preferences. I want to be myself but honour those who have invited me into their setting. It is actually a very easy thing to do if humility and love are present in our hearts.
I have been in several meetings over the years where keen people took over and imposed their ministry style when given the chance and what God was doing up until they did that was ignored… and God’s Spirit was grieved and lifted, though like Samson, those responsible did not seem to realise it was so as they ventured forth in their usual style. In fact they seemed quite thrilled by what they had done and were even thankful to God for what ensued! I wanted to leave these meetings at the point of take-over. To this day I cannot decide whether staying rather than leaving was out of kindness to those getting it so wrong but believing they were doing it so right, or was it cowardice? Perhaps a mixture? Perhaps it is just my personality which sometimes is a blessing to me and other times seems a bit of a confusing and frustrating nuisance. Whatever, God loves me and loves them, even though we can all be a nuisance to His purposes from time to time.
Perhaps the lesson to draw from such times is an extension of what Paul teaches concerning other issues: all things that are lawful and perfectly acceptable may not always be helpful. In other words some right things can become wrong. It can depend on setting. I guess part of leadership is at times to say when a right thing is wrong! Not always easy when you have to say it to excited people. At times every true leader will be judged by some as being controlling and will be thought to be quenching the Spirit. The verse “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,” is usually trotted out by those who think anything goes at any time. Of course the verse is being misapplied.
For those coming, or thinking of coming to the Conference: let’s gather in humble awareness of the God who is at work, and tread carefully, joyfully delighting to learn from and to honour God’s people in Lewis, their ways, and God’s ways with them in current blessing.
For those not coming to Lewis, well the lesson holds good. It is good to tread carefully when we meet with one another or find ourselves in territory other than our own familiar home ground. The strange thing is when we meet in humility honouring one another, change of the right sort happens to us all, and the purposes of God advance in us all.