The kingdom of God grows secretively. It’s not that people are afraid to go public with their faith. Most of the activity just escapes notice. Think of it like the breath you take. If you tried to count every breath, you would be distracted from everything else. But breathing is just as important to the body as anything else, if not more so.
We pay close attention to the kinds of things we can see in a church: attendance, giving, groups, worship, missions, and trips. Rightly so. These things help us track health, assist our planning, and enable us to evaluate success. We touch and shape lives every time we get together. Practically in a church, some things just won’t run without publicly reporting and sharing the information.
It’s much harder to measure things we can’t see. Just as character is revealed when no one is watching the secret habits of life, so the kingdom of God is revealed largely through unseen acts. These deeds of kindness, mercy, generosity, and love rarely get recognized or even rewarded during this life. A few people might know about them, but they are very significant to a church.
During his ministry, Jesus described this kind of unseen work parabolically. It’s like a mustard seed growing into a tree or yeast expanding a lump of dough. You barely notice what’s happening. The one responsible usually works behind the scenes, but the effects are tremendous.
When he gathered with his disciples after resurrection, he gave them another unseen reminder of the Spirit’s power in their lives. He breathed on them. Just as mustard seed and yeast have a silent effect, so does the breath you take. There are the public demonstrations of the Spirit’s work as described in Acts 2, and then there are the quiet works that are the life breath of the church. They can come just as naturally as inhaling and exhaling.
When we gather on Sunday, it’s as if we breathe the Spirit’s work on one another for the week ahead. We are empowered to demonstrate the hidden practices that only you and God can see.
The word conspire means to “breathe together.” Imagine what Tallahassee would be like to have a divine conspiracy (to borrow Dallas Willard’s phrase) of believers working behind the scenes wherever we live, play, learn, and serve. Most of the actions would escape notice, but the effects are tremendous.
This summer, check your habits against the public and private activities of faith. We’ll probably never catch you in the act, but that’s ok. That’s the way it should be. But we can’t breathe without you.