Last Friday 2,000 men gathered together in a field near Swindon in the UK to spend a weekend together. Some camped, some had caravans, and some chickened out and stayed in local B&Bs and hostelries.
What exactly is the point of 2,000 men spending a weekend together in a field near Swindon? CVM who run the event equip the site with two large marquees (the Big Top and the Mess Tent) plus some dubious shower and toilet facilities. They arrange a band, speakers, seminars, and various other activities, which this year included a flyby from a WW2 Hurricane (it was Armed Forces Day).
During the evening meeting on the Friday I was pondering the point of just one man being at The Gathering – myself. It is the third time I have been and I will go again. It is good to be with a group of friends from church, and a special bond has formed between four of us through attending The Gathering together. We support each other through fellowship and prayer throughout the year, and meet regularly to share a meal in a certain Thai restaurant in Hereford. That is one of several benefits that have come out of us attending The Gathering, but it still leaves the question: “What is the point?”
It troubled me that I could not answer this question, so in the middle of the Friday evening meeting I asked God. His reply stunned me: “What is the difference about The Gathering? Because if The Gathering does not make a difference then there is no point in gathering.” I go to The Gathering to be with good friends, to spend a weekend in an overtly male but Christian environment. I have never previously considered what difference being at an event like The Gathering should make in my life. The same question and answer need to be applied to church every Sunday.
The problem is that once again I have been looking at things through my eyes instead of through Jesus’ eyes. And if Jesus hasn’t made a difference in my life then there is no point in me following Him. I’m not talking about the difference back at the start when I began this journey with Jesus. I need to be different everyday, every step of the journey, and that difference has to be noticeable. I need to be different the way that Jesus was different, because that is what He expects of all who choose to follow Him. Different, while remembering that while I may have chosen to follow Him, He chose me first. Such an investment surely makes being different worthwhile?
Brennan Manning described the being different like this: ‘Jesus said to the two disciples, “Come and see. Come to me and see with my eyes, listen with my ears, and feel with my heart.”‘
“But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.” (Matthew 13:16 NIV)
Source of first image: CVM Facebook Page
Brennan Manning quote from ‘Reflections for Ragamuffins – 26 June entry