Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Ron's pastoral care 2) The value of one

I recall the stillness in the room as Ron began Session 1.  Partly, because of his gentle voice but mostly because line after line required such heart-searching from us all.

I think Session 2: The value of one best sums up the core of Ron's presence and ministry.  He used that phrase as no one else has in my experience.  This session involved class discussion at the beginning, asking us to respond to two questions:  In our society, what are the criteria for valuing an individual?  What gives us personal value?  

Then he taught about the scale of oneWith only three years in which to complete his world-wide task on earth what plan of campaign would we expect from Jesus. Cover as much ground, meet as many people as possible? Success depends on numbers? The shock is that he works on the scale of one. Gospel writers give so much of their limited space to his encounter with individuals eg. see all the different people in John 1-4: Andrew, Peter, Philip, Nathanael (ch.1); Nicodemus (night hours) ch 2; woman of Samaria (day hours) ch.3; paralysed man ch.4.

He quoted John Watson (The Mind of the Master): Jesus lay in wait for the individual. this was not because he undervalued a thousand, it was because he could not work on the thousand scale; it was not because he overvalued the individual, it was because his method was arranged for the scale of one.

And John Mott (The Present World Situation): Some missionary methods are more highly productive than others. The most important and productive method of all is that of relating people one by one through reasonable and vital faith to Jesus Christ. This individual work for individuals was the method most constantly employed by Christ himself and has ever been given a large place in the activities of the most highly multiplying work, the most enduring work. 

Ron acknowledged just how difficult such Christian caring is in practice. We are influenced by public opinion and social pressures, have our own fears and prejudices, and there are inbuilt tensions in many situations. For example in church, tension between the needs of the whole congregation and needs of one person. And in business, between need for profitability (for survival) and the welfare of individual employees (possibly unprofitable).

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