It seems as if this process of categorizing our differences is an unchangeable pattern of our society. However, as a Christian, we should avoid the inevitable trap of living our lives according to these boundaries. May we be reminded: It is not the goal of the christian church to develop a christian subculture so that we avoid relationships outside of our "category". We are not called to create our own "safe society" where all we do is hang out with other Christians, go to Christian schools, go to church to have our needs met and then meet with other Christians to talk about how bad our world is becoming. Of course it is! And in the absence of a message of life changing hope, the decay of our society will only accelerate.
Jesus made our commission very clear, "...as the Father sent me, so I also send you." (Jn 20:21) From generation to generation, we must pass the baton of faith as a representative of Jesus Christ. "An ambassador of Christ as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg (others) on behalf of Jesus Christ, to be reconciled to God." (2Cor 5:20) And the message we carry is not relevant in our subculture. The message of salvation is shared at the dinner table with sinners. (Luke 15:1-2)
In consideration of this calling, consider this:
- When is the last time you shared a meal with a person in need of the world's most important message of hope? Perhaps it is a co-worker or a neighbor or that guy you always sit next to at the game. Have you taken the time to engage with that person enough to earn the right to be heard? Be honest! Because some of us need to confess that we have become so isolated in our own circle of friends that we do not have this opportunity. In fact, some of us may need to initiate efforts by rebuilding bridges we have previously burned. When we isolate, we send a message of condemnation: "You are not good enough to be in my group." So ask yourself today - Which message am I sending: Hope or condemnation?
- For those who are engaging with outsiders, are you living wisely among them? (Col 4:5-6) Remember, we are in the world but not of the world. As someone once said, "Wisdom is the quality that keeps you from getting into situations where you need it." None of us are immune to influence. Therefore, we must march into enemy territory only when our own soul is well fortified. Are your loins guarded with truth? Do you carry the shield of faith? Do you wield the sword of the spirit? The armor of God as described by Paul is a necessity for those "who make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel". (Eph 6:12-20)
- Finally, does prayer precede your purpose? John Piper (in his book Let the Nations Be Glad) reminds us that "prayer is the communication with headquarters by which the weapons of warfare are deployed according to the will of God". Yet, all too often, we forget that we are in war. We have no sense of urgency, no watching, no vigilance. No strategic planning. Just easy peace and prosperity. Instead of prayer being a 2 way communication system in the midst of war, we have rigged up an intercom system in heaven so that we can submit our requests for safety, security and luxury - not to call in firepower for conflict but asking for more comforts in the den. Piper reminds us: God has given us prayer because Jesus has given us a mission. So ask yourself, is my prayer life more like a walkie talkie in the midst of battle or an intercom system to call in comforts for the den?
Prepared with prayer, girded with truth, engaging with outsiders. The Great Commission for all who trust in Jesus Christ. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations..." (Mt 28:19)