Over lunch recently a friend and I were talking about “Rules of Life” that is rhythms we need in our lives that lead to a fuller life with God and with others.
My friend suggested two words for a rule for life – availability and vulnerability. She discovered they are words the Northumbria Community are seeking to live out in their context.

I’ve been pondering the power of these two “rules” – availability and vulnerability.
Availability to God and others.
Vulnerability to God and others.

I really like them. The more I ponder the more it invites me into a richer community with God and others.

These two postures, availability and vulnerability, could be especially helpful to the millennial generation (Here is a previous post about millennials). If you try to fake availability and vulnerability it won’t get you very far at all and life will stay on the surface. If you start plunging into availability and vulnerability it is contagious, particularly to millennials seeking something real.

I also like how having just these two words for a “rule of life” allows rhythms to look different for each person and in different seasons. What availability and vulnerability look like for me will be different than what they look like for you. They likely will look different in this season compared to the next season.

Availability and vulnerability.
Launch off these two words and ponder what they would mean for our discipleship, our leadership, our church, our life in Christian community….
Powerful right?!

Let’s think about them in the life of Jesus.

Jesus and availability

Jesus, fully available to God – Jesus took time to listen to the Father (e.g. Mark 1:35), Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing (e.g. John 5:19) and Jesus came to earth to do God’s will not His own (e.g. John 6:38). What does it look like for you to put yourself in places and in the posture where you are fully available to God?

Jesus, available to others – We see this throughout Jesus’ life in the Gospel – Jesus ignoring His hunger and thirst to speak to the woman at the well (John 4:4-26), Jesus stopping to talk to the woman who was healed from touching His cloak (Mark 5:25-34), Jesus stopping for the blind bagger on the side of the road (Mark 10:46-52), Jesus stopping to bring Zacchaeus down from the tree and go to his house (Luke 19:1-10), Jesus taking time with the twelve disciples even inviting them to group time away from the crowds (e.g. Mark 6:31). The examples here could go on and on. Jesus was available to others, served others, yet was not ruled by others. Jesus was ruled by God, available to God and that overflowed into availability to others. God made Himself fully available to us in Christ. God continues to make Himself available to others through His Holy Spirit in you, if you are willing and cooperate.

Jesus and vulnerability

Jesus, vulnerable to God – Jesus did not hide His feelings, confusion and disappoint from God. Think of the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus asked the Father – “Really? Isn’t their any other way? Do I really have to drink this cup?” (Paraphrase of Matthew 26: 39, 42). Jesus let it be known when God felt distant as He hung on the cross “My God, my God why have you forsaken me.” (Matthew 27:46) How can you enter a new level of vulnerability with God?

Jesus, vulnerable to others – Jesus, the Son of God, entrusted Himself to human beings. Jesus, the Son of God, depended on us and shared His heart and life with others. Jesus depended on others for food and hospitality (e.g. Mark 15:41), Jesus let his disciples in on what was coming during the last supper (Matthew 26:17-30), in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46) Jesus invited others into his anguish (even though they weren’t there for him at this moment), Jesus entrusted the Kingdom message to the disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), Jesus entrusted His own fate into the religious rulers and political rulers of his day (Jesus before the Sanhedrin, Pilate and the guards) and the ultimate vulnerability, Jesus hung naked on a cross, exposed and tortured for us all. (John 19:17-30)
If Jesus, the Son of God, entrusted His life, heart and message to humans, even while knowing they would disappoint and fail Him to a certain degree, surely you and I can open our heart and life to others more.

Availability and vulnerability in our lives
Ponder how they are key to opening the way to more, to deeper community and relationship with God and with others.

What does it look like for you in this season to lean into greater availability and vulnerability with God and others? I don’t want to prescribe specifics, as it’s going to look a little different for all of us. Instead I want to invite you to reflect deeply on what it means for you to become available and vulnerable to God and others. I am asking myself these same questions.

Availability in our lives
Availability to God – How could you put yourself in environments where you are ready to listen and respond to God? What is the posture of your heart towards God in this season?

Availability to others – Are there times when you can give yourself to others’ agenda instead of your own agenda? Are you ready to pay attention to nudges from the Holy Spirit? Who needs you to listen generously to them? Who could you create space for in your life? As you go through your day are you prepared to stop and be interrupted? Are you available to only those you deem like you or available to whomever God chooses?

Vulnerability in our lives
Vulnerability is not over-sharing – that is just attention seeking. Vulnerability is getting rid of pretenses and being your real self. Being real about what is happening in your life, church, ministry, community… It is not pretending current reality is better or worse than it really is.

Vulnerable to God – When is the last time you poured out your heart to God? Do you put on an “air” of pretenses in your prayers? Have you told God what you really think – about life, about Him? Have you sat in silence and allowed God to examine your heart and reveal what you’ve been trying to ignore or hide? Are you allowing the Lord to speak to you? Are you willing and ready to receive from the Lord?

Vulnerable to others – Have you invited others in? Have you asked others to help you? Who knows your story? Who knows exactly “where you are at” in this season?
C.S. Lewis has said “… your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses?”
Will you be available and vulnerable to them? It will change our neighbourhoods, it will change our world.

I’m on a journey to be available and vulnerable to God and others in my neighbourhood. How about you?
-Renée @r_embree #1neighbourhood