Nate: I just hung up with one of the brothers from the Stepping Stone Farm. Man, the spirit those folks have is just amazing!
Friend: What do you mean?
Nate: what do I mean about what?
Friend: about the spirit of those folks?
Nate: it seems to be the Spirit…there is an amazing sense of longing that I feel very keenly when I am with them or talk to them, and I don’t recall ever having experienced it before. and it feels…pure
Friend: Let me ask you something that may seem somewhat unrelated to the major decision that you’re facing right now, but I assure you it is related…”Do you have a vision for your family, and if so, what is it?”
Nate: That is so on target. Yes, I have a finely developed sense of vision for my family…and it looks (with a few minor variations) like the 12 Tribes look. Actually living, moment by moment, hour by hour, as if eternity and the spiritual kingdom is what matters most
Friend: As a father, husband and man of God, will that vision be totally fulfilled with the 12 tribes? Will you be able to practice the gifts that God has graciously given within that context?
Nate: If I could answer that question with crystal certainty, I would be in the process of moving all ready. My answer today is that it seems as if I would be able to do so ever so much more so than now. What is plaguing me these days is that the theology that developed into their walk and the theology that developed my vision of a walk for my family are not the same on some issues. However, the rubber to the road is the same.
Friend: I can see that is where you’re struggling. I struggle with that issue myself in many areas. For me though, I guess that I’m still young and brash enough to think that God might use me to bring balance to our movement in that regard….
Nate: Your comment “I’m still young and brash enough to think…” that describes my dream for the last 3 years to a “T”. Two things have happened over the past 6 months: 1) I’m increasingly overwhelmed with the number of things I really don’t know when it comes to deciding what Scripture means, but at the same time more and more convinced about the importance of what I do understand means about how we ought to be living, and 2) there is a line in one of the 12 Tribes songs that has impacted me greatly. It says, “Come just as you are, leave your goals behind.”
Friend: is that song beckoning you to a life with the 12 tribes, or a life of devotion to the Master?
Nate: When I first heard that it made the hair on the back of my neck bristle. But as I listened to it over a matter of weeks, I began to see that even though my goals are all good, they really are still all wrapped up in me. But Yeshua said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” I’m all ready living and have been living what our movement would consider sold out devotion to the Master.
Friend: I would challenge you not to exchange our movement’s ideals of sold out discipleship for another movement’s ideals.
Nate: I’m not. I’m comparing our movement’s ideals to my conviction regarding what sold-out discipleship is. And to my understanding of what a 1st century talmid looked like. Because that, after all, is what Yeshua commanded us, to raise up many talmidim, teaching them to observe all that he commanded.
Friend: I know that we discussed it in our first chat on the subject, but I don’t remember many of the answers. How are they impacting the world for eternity?
Nate: They live a life (as many of us have theorized) that draws the “sick” (to use Yeshua’s term) to them. It is absolutely unbelievable to witness, but there is a constant stream of visitors to their communities. As if that weren’t enough, every one one of their industries is geared around being able to touch people in the execution of their labors to make a living. Finally, they also engage in specific projects like bus tours, a huge festival that they threw in Washington D.C., etc. specifically geared to provide opportunities for their lives to intersect with the seeking.
Friend: I suppose that one of the things that really concerns me about the 12 tribes approach is that I perceive (big emphasis on that…I perceive…I could be way wrong) that if you don’t sell everything (just a step above monastacy) then you are not a true follower of the Master.
Nate: I really should allow them to respond to that rather than me. But let me just say that what I have been able to ascertain of their beliefs (and I was asking questions of that nature tonight) that is not the case.
Friend: In their understanding, what is the gospel?
Nate: I don’t know. I haven’t asked that succinct of a question. I will though.
Friend: so, let me ask this. Based what you’ve experienced, what is my eternal destiny if I don’t join their group?
Nate: You would be one of the righteous who has eternal life and lives in the Messianic Kingdom, then the Eternal Age. You just wouldn’t be one of those ruling and reigning with Messiah. But let me ask you this. Let’s assume they’re wrong about this. What difference does that make?
Friend: that’s a good question…and off the cuff, I would have to say that it really doesn’t make a difference. What are the main theological issues that you have?
Nate: that and the idea that they are the Body of Messiah. “Christianity” is where most of those who are being drawn to Messiah are, but unless they join the Body (the 12 Tribes) then they are the righteous not the holy. But then again I have to ask myself, what difference does that make if they are living a holy and righteous life, in a manner like no else that I have ever run across, and in a manner consistent with what I have envisioned as a biblical lifestyle for my family.
Nate: I asked tonight, if I started an intentional community here in Fort Wayne, that lived just like they do, but didn’t think of ourselves as exclusively the Body of Messiah (and was producing fruit) what would the difference between that community and them be. The answer was if that theoretical community was being led by the Spirit, then there would be no division between us and them!
Friend: the exclusive part is the main thing that concerns me…
Nate: did you catch that last comment though…
Friend: there might not be division, but their take that they are THE Body is pretty narrow in scope. In my mind it takes away from the work of God in all of the Nations.
Nate: When you have more time, let’s talk about that.
Friend: alright. I’ll hold you to it. I’m gonna take off for now. I’m praying for you, and trusting that the Father will guide you as He wills. Blessings and Shalom to you, my brother!