As I was flipping through a magazine, an ad caught my eye: “Have you been everywhere yet?” There was a picture of an exotic location we would all love to visit. This phrase captures what most people feel; restless. Our culture is knee deep in the rising waters of restlessness, and it has led us down the raging river of discontent. Without even knowing it we are asking, “Am I missing out?” We fear being left out and left behind. Ironically, our fear of missing out drives us away from people and into relational comparison through social media and an obsession with the next place we can make our next great escape.
My bout with restlessness led me to wanderlust that landed me in Antarctica, New Zealand and Hawaii. These three spots were on my bucket list, and in a twist of fate I landed a job that allowed me to travel to all three places in one fell swoop. I went. I saw. I adventure-d. And I was done. There I was in New Zealand, one of the most beautiful spots on the globe, longing to belong to some place, any place, even a very ordinary one. I felt placeless. Most people describe feeling a distance to the place they live, like a couple who is married but have become roommates. This placeless-ness has contributed to the gnawing feeling of disconnection most people are experiencing in our culture today.
Our culture is knee deep in the rising waters of restlessness, and it has led us down the raging river of discontent.
So, where does the Gospel fit into this?
Think about the life of Jesus for a minute. A far cry from the travels of Paul going forth on God’s mission, Jesus lived his whole life and practiced his whole ministry in a small radius. God’s redemptive plan placed him in a family, a home, a town, a community and one specific place at a time. In the Message paraphrase John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” What kind of impact could we have if we intentionally “moved into” the neighborhoods, cities and the relationships we are already in? We need to move beyond interaction and existence and truly “move in”. God isn’t looking for more consultants and experts to help define “incarnation”, but practitioners who are willing to live it.
God invites us to join the family business of redeeming all things back to him. On one side of the coin you don’t have to go anywhere to join God’s work. On the other side of the coin this is no easy thing. Jesus beckons us to join him in carrying his cross. We live in a culture, even within the Church, where we want influence without sacrifice. Can we reasonably expect to ascend to thrones of influence without first descending to the cross with Jesus?
What kind of impact could we have if we intentionally “moved into” the neighborhoods, cities and the relationships we are already in?
We are all missionaries.
Our mission trip started the day we were born and it ends the day God calls us home. Jesus designed his Church to flesh out His message. Jesus destined and prepared His church to be salt and light. But are we? Are you? Do those in close proximity to you find your life curious and winsome? It’s time that we take a hard look at whether, by the grace of God, we are actually the salty and luminous people Jesus charged us to be.
Many people far from the church barely notice local faith families right around them. They drive past church buildings without a second thought. You might even give them a friendly wave as you pull out of your garage on your way to Bible study. Far too often followers of Jesus have had little or no impact on those around us. We’ve settled for occupancy. I believe God designed homes as hubs for ministry, not refuges from ministry. While people everywhere need the gospel, I bet there are people in the home or cubicle next door who have never seen a faithful Christian example.
We’ve settled for occupancy. I believe God designed homes as hubs for ministry, not refuges from ministry.
Some will go as foreign missionaries, but most will stay. Perhaps staying must become the new going. Instead of seeking to go forth in the name of Jesus what if we “stayed forth” in his name?
Who do you already know who needs to experience Jesus?
What simple acts can demonstrate the love of Jesus to them?
Published September 2, 2015