By George O’Reilly
Transitional Conference Leader
As I write this, many of us have just returned from several days of working together as Ohio Conference on our mission and trajectory for the next year certainly, and on into the foreseeable future.
We began with a special Missional presentation from Forge Network titled “Becoming Missional: Re-Learning How to Be Sent.” This series of addresses was designed to re-focus our attention on community-based outreach as God’s people. Attendees seemed much energized by these presentations.
We then turned our attention to discussing and discerning how our combined life as Ohio Conference will take shape in the next stage of our work together.
I must admit this was fairly tiring work for me, as I know it was for numerous others. We might prefer that such decisions would simply “fall quickly into place” with some ease, since we are, after all, God’s people united by the Spirit.
Ephesians 4 speaks strongly on the unity we have by the act of God through the Spirit. But this passage also speaks about the working together of every different element of the body. “But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.” — Ephesians 4:15-16
Such work in a physical human body is very demanding and tiring. Muscles tire, joints ache, and ligaments feel overly stretched. Engaging in such physical training builds the coordinated strength of the entire person, preparing that person to face new physical challenges.
In Christ’s body, this work too is designed to prepare the body unified by the Spirit for new perplexities and challenges. The scripture passage says that once we grow into more maturity we will “no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching ….” — Ephesians 4:14
This exercise toward stability in faith and wisdom in discernment is gained as the body brings all its resources together, engaging the gifts and strengths of each member, balancing the energy and efforts of each muscle and joint, heeding the function of every part. By so doing, just as a physical body can achieve balance and coordination, the spiritual body of Christ, the Church, can find balance in the oft-times disorienting pressures of our daily life together.
I experienced this truth at the Ohio Conference Annual Conference Assembly this year. We spoke openly, we listened respectfully, we discussed, sometimes enthusiastically, but in the end we came to a fairly high level of agreement about where we will go next. Was it perfect? No, nor shall it ever be in this age. The constant need for further strengthening remains. But we moved away from tossing about to setting our direction in hopes of maturing and growing in Christ together.
I am ready for a day or two off, actually. But the expenditure of energy was fulfilling and worthwhile. I am very thankful that this effort was not that of just a few, but of the many persons from across Ohio Conference who came together committed to engaging in this work of the Body together.
So I hope that even if you too are tired, you feel the satisfaction of having tested our combined strength and having found it sufficient for the task of those several days.
May we always treasure the work of the body, growing itself up in love as each part does its work!