The Pace: How does the new way of living and thinking work itself out in our-day-to day lives? As discussed in my previous post, altering our daily schedules seems like a huge inconvenience. It looks almost completely different from what we’ve always done. What about our kids? What about our free time? Doing life with people can be messy; it takes a lot of extra effort to roll up our sleeves and spend time with people with whom we may not share much in common. Having people in our homes for meals or a night of board games might appear to be trivial, but it’s not. It’s all purposeful if you have a plan.
Before I go any further, this can’t be the old “bait and switch.” This is living and loving on purpose. A wise man once said, “Never speak for God where His Word is silent,” but I wonder what the conversations were like in Luke 7 when Jesus reclined at Simon the Pharisee’s table for a meal. You may remember this passage because of what a “woman of the city, who was a great sinner” did for Jesus. She anointed Him with an alabaster flask of ointment and wept at His feet, kissing them and wiping them with her hair. Jesus didn’t condemn Simon for his doubt or even for questioning the validity of His claims about Himself. He used the time to lovingly teach a lesson: reaching people who don’t sin like us is messy.
We’re talking about people who don’t live, speak, or believe like we do. We should never be shocked when the world acts like the world. Last week, one of our sons was involved in a minor situation with other children in a neighbor’s house that left the wife really upset. We’re close to these people. They are one of the couples we are hoping to reach with the Gospel. The neighbor sent the kids home and later sent her husband to the houses of all involved to “lay down the hammer.” I know my kids are not perfect or always innocent, but trust me when I say this was very minor.
When the husband left, my wife and I were tempted to call the neighbor out for her pettiness. We were tempted to put up a fence and tell our kids to stay away from their yard. But then we remembered that God is calling us to love and reach our neighbors, and it happens in His time and in His way, not ours. We could have put her in her place, won the argument, and lost the right to ever impact them for the Kingdom. So instead of pointing a finger, we prayed for them.
The Payoff: Our prayer is that the irreligious and marginalized will understand that God is pursuing them not to condemn them, but to rescue them from an eternity without Him. We need to crucify the idea that being part of a church is like living in a silo separated from the “real” world.
We believe in addressing the consumer mindset by helping people understand that everywhere we go—all the places we work, eat, and play—matters to God. Every day is full of opportunities to show and tell people about God’s great love for them—the love He demonstrated when He sent His Son who knew no sin to be sin for us so we could be made right with Him. The payoff is when one person turns from going his or her own way and turns to Jesus to be eternally reconciled to God.
Ultimately, we want to see our neighbors connect to a local church and go on mission with us to reach others just as they were reached. To be completely honest, sitting in my office, speaking at a Bible study, and showing up each Sunday morning hoping that people do the same is a much easier approach to reaching people, but it’s not working. The Gospel is too rich, eternity is too long, and the payoff is too great for followers of Jesus not to live missionally.