I used to be taken care of by John Stott – though we by no means met
Time Magazine named John Stott alongside Nelson Mandela and Bill Gates in its 2005 "Most Influential People" listPhoto: Langham Partnership International
I'm here today because of what Jesus did through John Stott.
It's a strong line without any exaggeration. And yet, I confess, it's confusing. Stott and I never met. I am not an anglican. I come from a world in the Antipodes where John was teased by our uncultivated Jokels on his first visit – 18 years before I was born – for his love of bird watching. On behalf of bold Australian evangelicals, I am terribly sorry. I must also confess that I have read more of John's work in this centenary year than I have read in four decades.
And yet, almost inadvertently, John's life has left an indelible mark on my life.
I had always longed for a mentor in my particular calling to bridge the gap between church and culture and avoid both escape from the world and conformism with the world. I just never realized that Uncle John was that mentor all along, through his immeasurable influence on key people and movements that I belonged to.
Almost every 'new discovery' I've made just thought of Stott's thoughts after him. Soak up the work of Francis Schaeffer to form a Christian spirit; Studied at Regent College with Stott's friends J. I. Packer and Jim Houston; Joining the ecumenical Lausanne movement for world evangelization; to spread a greater gospel on campus that made the existence of every student clear; Seeking the integration of faith, life and mission – and head, heart and hands – into theological formation; and now as a catalyst for culturally astute disciplines throughout life at the John Institute, founded in 1982.
While my voice barely broke, he called us to build bridges to the real world, where (our neighbors) live and love, work and play, laugh and cry, fight and suffer, grow old and die.
"We have to provoke them," said John, "to reflect on their lives in all its moods, to challenge them to make Jesus Christ Lord in every area and to demonstrate his contemporary relevance." Amen!
By God's grace I have unwittingly piggybacked a selfless older brother in the faith and only now am looking for ways to draw again from the wells that were first sunk when he started the long-form course as the first director of the LICC. & # 39; Christians in the Modern World & # 39 ;. Like I said, I'm here today because of what Jesus did through John.
John's mentoring is most evident in his call to “double listening,” which combines loyalty to God's revelation and sensitivity to the modern world. At LICC we are working to carry on this torch, in particular by promoting “triple listening”: we not only learn from the Bible and the world around us, but also from one another – the people of God in the small details of our everyday contexts.
In keeping with Stott's vision of lifelong discipleship, our passion is that every follower of Jesus can listen, imagine, create, and communicate. Listen to what is going on in this post-Christian moment and find out why it is happening. Imagine what it might mean for the kingdom to come in our specific contexts as part of God's mission, which runs from creation to completion and is centered on the cross of Christ. After listening and introducing ourselves, we want to equip radical students to bring about strategic change and be fruitful on our different fronts. Finally, LICC is passionate about catalyzing the lifelong testimony of every follower of Jesus in Britain so that we can communicate the gospel in ways that are really good news in the language of our neighbors.
And again, just as I thought I was leading, I actually suddenly followed in Uncle John's footsteps. When I read the central chapter of contemporary Christian about & # 39; The hearing ear & # 39; Reading again, I found that John was there before me. His decades of practice of giving listening groups shows that he was the consummate triple listener and triple learner. He bowed his ear and listened to the cries of the world through the wisdom of the word for one another – so that every Christian on his front line could thrive as a lifelong witness of the good news of Jesus. Everything in honor of the father.
As Stott put it so clearly, “Every true student is a listener … who cultivates the hearing ear. Bad listeners don't make good students. & # 39;
Uncle John goes ahead and appeals to us alongside Jesus' brother to listen quickly. –James 1:19. So may we take care and listen to the word, the world and one another so that together we can follow the path of Christ and make it known to the ends of the earth, starting right where we live: whatever you do, wherever you are whoever you are
Dr. Dave Benson is director of culture and discipleship at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC), founded in 1982 by John Stott.