My normal Monday nights are spent in a small group with some friends from my church. Tonight though, I had the privilege to go and help serve dinner to a group of children at a local apartment complex. To say that these children are “underprivileged” would probably be an understatement. In a town full of great wealth and extreme comforts, we pull into this tiny apartment complex and feel like we are in another country. I found myself at one point sitting at the table with two boys who showed up just for the food. They didn’t want the bible story, the relationships, or anything else. They just needed some food. It made me think as I left tonight, that’s exactly the kind of selfless ministry that Jesus engaged in on a daily basis.
So then I get home tonight and I’m thinking about the church, specifically my church where I am a paid minister. I live just about 1.5 miles from the apartments we served tonight and for some reason while I’m sitting here listening to my air conditioner roar, thinking about how hot it was tonight out there with those children who don’t have air conditioners running in their homes, I’ve just tuned out the world and I’m back on my plan for the week. I just polished off a cold coke and a bunch of kettle corn, enjoying the comforts and things that I have in life while beginning to think about what I need to do to prepare for Sunday. What seems to go through my head all week long is, “what will Sunday look like?” It feels like the bulk of what we do is prepare and get ready for that one day each week. And then on the beginning of this week God sends me a reminder, or maybe more like a slap in the face, that being “out there” is really what it’s all about. Jesus and His followers made tons of disciples, but I can’t think of any instances where that seemed to happen in a worship service. In fact, the Savior I follow was called a drunkard and a glutton, a friend of “sinners”. But somehow we’ve polished up our churches and our worship settings so much so that they’re unfriendly to “sinners”.
I thank the Lord tonight that He reminded me that most of the time when we are His hands and His feet, those appendages tend to get dirty.
I heard an incredible conversation today on a video interview with a church planter. She was discussing how we in America have reversed the work of a missionary. Where Jesus has told us to go, we’ve created a space and told them to come. Its the idea, “If you build it, they will come.” She ended the interview with the statement “what if people fell in love with Jesus first and then a church emerged?”
I think it’s time the church starts to reverse the trend. I think it’s time to create and be a part of missional communities all around the areas we serve. What if Monday through Saturday became just as important as Sunday? What if Sunday became the fruit and outpouring of joy from the discipling that takes place the other 6 days? As a part of a restoration movement, this is the area I would love to see restored to first century Christianity. Thank you Jesus for the reminder you sent me tonight.
I Kings 19:19-21
“So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother good-by,” he said, “and then I will come with you.” “Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?” So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant.”
1.) When God calls, we leave everything behind in pursuit of Him. It’s really the only appropriate answer to Him. Notice Elisha burns the plowing equipment and kills the oxen. He is relying totally on God. We so often want to stack the deck in our favor when it seems God wants us to bid blindly, depending totally on Him. He calls us to jump before He shows us our wings.
2.) The call for Jesus’ disciples is answered in the same way. Jesus tells the disciples in Luke 9 to take nothing for the journey. God never shows us the end result or even where we’re going. He just gives us a little each day to help us to take the next step. It’s the scariest yet most thrilling adventure one can take!
3.) Everyone is called. If you profess Jesus as your Lord, then the Great Commission applies to you and we are all called to go and make disciples. It looks different for different folks, but we all should do it. Some are paid, some are overseas, some are engineers, some are lawyers….I think you get the point. Next to bringing glory to God, this is our second most important purpose in life.