I write this on the coat tails of last night’s church service at ANC. Brandon, one of the ANC pastors, spoke from John 12, and it was so on target with what I felt the 7th part of being a Missional Person was to be about, that I could have just linked this page to his message, but I won’t, because I would rather rant a bit.
The truth is we all come from, directly or indirectly, a church world that is simply petrified of those who are ‘other’ than us. The thing that scares us about that, is what if their ‘otherness’ rubbed off on me, and made me ‘other ’ like them, of course the underlying assumption here is that their ‘otherness’ is much stronger than my ‘otherness,’ which brings up a deeper issue, “How much do you really trust in God’s sovereignty?” We’ve all heard this, in fact you may have preached it, quoted, or thought it, “If you hang around so and so, or if you invite them in you may ‘catch what they have.’” Then we so proudly use verses like: Galatians 5:9, 1 Corinthians 5:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:22, and 2 Corinthians 4:16, all to mask our fear or disgust for obedience. The truth is, and we all know this, if we were to compare all these verses to the life of Jesus, we would be forced to search for a deeper meaning rather than simple proof-texting.
We seem so committed to getting people to behave a certain way rather than helping them find Jesus . For some reason we would rather someone be straight and on their way to hell, than saved and gay (did I just say that). The truth is a missional person is someone who humbly helps others find Jesus on their own time rather than forcing them to make superficial decision.
Think about this from the ‘other’s’ perspective – You can’t belong until you behave a certain way. You can’t be my friend (as if that is a prize everyone is aiming for) until you quite behaving that way? Is it any wonder people think Christians are more prideful rather than humble. The truth is that message of ‘change your behavior or else’ is about as prideful as any message I have ever heard – heck Jesus doesn’t even demand that, how can we?
In 1 Corinthians 9:19-22 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. In a nutshell, we must become like those we wish to influence! Do me a favor, instead of attributing all kinds things that I don’t mean, just hear the truth in it, so I don’t have to take up a lot of space here explaining that.
The truth is, Jesus Christ, invites us into the precious lives of those who do not know him yet, to be their friends, their support group, a vision of hope, a life that mirrors the compassion of God, a voice of hope and truth…This is the what it is about, inviting them to ‘belong’ in our lives, before we ask them to behave. From there, we get to humbly walk with them hand in hand (read the story of Emmaus) to help them find Jesus on their own time rather than forcing them to make superficial decision, and finally we invite them to become – BEHAVE IS OUT OF THE EQUATION! When they are saved by Jesus, and his Holy Spirit is in them, he begins the new work, he continues the new work, he finishes the new work, and we GET to be part of the process. Bottom line, A legalist tells people they must BEHAVE! A missional follower of Christ, invites people to belong and helps them helps others find Jesus on their own time rather than forcing them to make superficial decision, and Jesus helps them become more and more like his own image…