Journey of a friend into a life of mission and Kingdom
A friend wrote me today…
I have been reading Michael Frost’s Exiles and it really clicked about what you are trying to create. I’m finding more and more moments of revelation where I see one more angle of what I have been missing and craving in my life. I see no 3rd place anywhere near where we live… …I have been working hard to understand how one “lives missionally” day to day. What it really would look like, how to incorporate what I read and learn. It’s such stark contrast for me trying to understand sometimes having been in the cruise control motions of life for so long. Any tips you might have would be appreciated!
My friend has been on a journey for a while. Being an American Christian, where the conversion process is one through the American grid of consumerism and materialism, where the Gospel is self arrival – where we get the “most that God has for us”… It’s a self centered conversion. He began to ask the 1/4 life crisis questions – what’s it all about? What am I living for? Just another small group, another Easter service, another year of sin management waiting on heaven. Quite narcissistic, egh? We really have stuffed what it is being a Christian. Sure, it’s believing in Jesus, but somehow we’ve interpreted following Him as a contract, a “give me” happiness, security, comfort, and enough affluence to be spoiled but not enough to wear a label of glutton – at least in our own culture. But this is for another day. I digress. Back on point…
There is something inside of us that longs for more – a reason to get out of bed. A giving away of one’s self to something that makes a difference and actually matters beyond being recognized by the Kiwanis Club and local high school. My friend has reached that point. His is deep – who is Jesus and what the heck do I have in relation to Him? He knows the truths, has followed and lived and been a “good Christian” for years. But he longs for more.
His is a common quest, especially at his age. They’ve chased the ideals, maybe even chased the dream of security, suburbia, comfort, and enjoy a life of relative leisure in materialism …just not in excess. He found it wanting.
Now he wants a life that is worth going the distance.
My reply was simple, but not trite, pithy and would not sell in most of the churches we grew up in, where there is a subtle “health and welfare gospel” that life will be good if we follow the contract with God to manage the sin, work to be good Americans, and manage the affluence to not be too gluttonous. Here is what I told him:
First, it begins with prayer. It’s a two way thing. Pray and ask God what He thinks about people in our world – then shut up and listen. Yea, just sit there and listen and expect that God might have something to say. After all, when we ask, He might even say something. This quieting and centering to listen, to wait, to surrender our agenda and our answers to wait for Him. Often He doesn’t speak right away. You normally hear or realized your spirit heard …later. BUT pray! In praying ask for His eyes, ears, heart, hands, perspective.
Next, be willing to be inconvenienced, to sacrificially give till it actually costs you and you go without something because you spent it (time, energy, money, etc) on another – whom will not repay you. Then actually look and wait for the needs and when they appear, step up, man up (sorry ladies, but you know what I mean), and do something… Be faithful and humble, don’t let yourself be noticed, just break in the Kingdom and bring life.
One needs others on the same journey to wrestle with it, and mentors to ask the hard stuff. We need this. We need the tribal approach. Living in a community, this is natural for us. It keeps us from slipping back into “Americana” where life is about me, and me being happy. There is a shallowness and random chain of experiences, instead of transforming life that takes place when not done intentionally.
Last, monitor every day where your are in the normal routines. Most churches go invent new ministries, programs, endeavors. Resist – the mission is in the simplest normal life rhythms. When you pick up your children, order something in a store or café, when you get mistreated, when your neighbor is struggling to manage his/her week. How can you bring Jesus into the moment and lighten the load and giving yourself away.
It all centers dying to one’s self… Philippians 2.5-11
Simply, simple and yet so complex.