#7: Mission and Humility #TaylorTuesdays


…the Spirit does not give himself where our encounters are glib, masked exchanges of second-hand thoughts. Our defences must be down, broken either by intense joy or by despair. One way or the other we must have come to the end of ourselves. So this shameful humiliation of Christians, not only in our generation but at all times, is better far than their self-congratulation, for it is the pre-requisite of a renewal of the Holy Spirit.

It is worth remembering that the roots of the words humiliation and humility is humus. To be down in the straw and the dung and the refuse – Paul’s words – is to become the soil in which the seed of Christ’s manhood falls and dies and brings forth the harvest.

The Go-Between God, p.128

How can we create fertile soil for the seed of Christ to grow?

For J.V. Taylor, joining in with God’s Mission is about humility and sacrifice. For the Spirit to be fully able to work through our encounters with others, we must be willing to let our guard down.┬áThis means that we need to come to the end of ourselves, or to put it another way: we need to get out of God’s way and let the Spirit get to work.

This is why Taylor takes huge confidence from the increasing marginalisation of the Church in society. He realises that it’s far better for us to be on our knees, desperate for God to work in our weakness, than for us to be caught up with our own influence and achievements.

Perhaps Taylor would approve of Evan Roberts’┬ádesperate prayer, at the beginning of the 1904 Welsh revival:

“Lord, humble me.”

Some questions to ponder:

  • What defences might you need to ‘let down’ when you encounter others?
  • In what ways might a marginalised church find itself in a better place to join in with God’s Mission than one at the centre of society?
  • How can you create fertile soil for the Holy Spirit to bring fresh growth in your context?


What do you think? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment.

Each Tuesday we’re posting a quote from John V. Taylor with some thoughts and questions for reflection. John (or J.V.) Taylor (1914 – 2001) was the General Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, and Bishop of Winchester, and wrote several seminal books on theology of mission, including The Go-Between God: The Holy Spirit and the Christian Mission and The Primal Vision: Christian Presence Amid African Religion. Find all the Taylor Tuesdays posts here.
About the author: James Henley
James Henley
James has been with The Lab since 2007 and leads our team. He's an ordained pioneer minister in the Church in Wales.