26 Jun Present + Engaged
In today’s world, we are intentional about a lot of things. We are constantly making decisions to move our agenda forward in our fast-paced society.
This affects how we dress, how we save, the particular kind of coffee we drink, and the non-GMO organic potatoes we eat. The strategy we employ to synthesize the communication of our life on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and our own personal blogs would put communication moguls of the past to shame. The intentionality we put into the “candid” moments of life is impressive.
But how intentional are we in how we interact with the world around us? Are we placing ourselves in positions that provide opportunity for God to use us in the rhythms of our life? Or, are we structuring our existence around our own comfort and periodically venturing out to see what God might have for us in the 3:00-5:30 pm slot we’ve blocked out for Him?
The intentionality we put into the “candid” moments of life is impressive.
Grace Church has had the opportunity to connect a number of church planters and pastors in Germany. In a recent conversation with Stephan Pues, Planter and Pastor of Nordstern Kirche in Frankfurt, we discussed the living situation of church planters (or apprentices) trained through their church. Stephan explains a cultural reality in their city called shared living spaces. In this model, four to five strangers come together to share a suite apartment in the city. Renting a room makes city-living affordable. And instead of simply living in these spaces with friends or with other Christians, Stephan challenges them to be more intentional in their living choices:
We don’t generally use shared living spaces in Greenville, but this principle of intentional ministry can and should be applied to our everyday lives. As we consider the idea that Jesus became a part of our world and our culture, we are forced to assess the ways that we live intentionally within our community as followers of Christ.
Are we moving to places because it supports our Christian lifestyle, or are we making intentional decisions to place ourselves in the vicinity of people who are far from God? Have we chosen a particular neighborhood, school or gym because it is where our friends from church live or go to, or are we looking around for opportunities to live life with and develop community with those who need the restorative love of Jesus in their lives?
Have we resigned ourselves to cheap grace and forgotten the costly grace that compels us? Jesus left his community to live with us in our sin, so we, too, must leave our sanctuaries and small groups at times to live with people who have not experienced community or the costly grace of our Savior.
When it comes down to it, maybe we need to think less about which school is easiest for our children to attend as Christians, and more about which schools could provide the opportunity for us to be a blessing and a sign post toward the Creator. Perhaps, rather than choosing to stop at whatever store is in the direction I’m driving, I shop at the same store twice a week so that I have the opportunity for conversation with the same cashier.
We, too, must leave our sanctuaries and small groups at times to live with people who have not experienced community or the costly grace of our Savior.
Maybe rather than living in this neighborhood because I could walk to small group, I live in another neighborhood because I can connect with 10 neighbors that may never have met a Christian. Perhaps, rather than playing golf with the guys in my small group, I grab some of the guys from the office and connect with them. Instead of always taking a walk with girlfriends from church, we ask the mom down the street to walk once a week.
As Stephan referenced in Luke 15: “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes grumbled, saying, ‘This man received sinners and eats with them.” Jesus pursues the sinner- the one who doesn’t have it all together. And I, for one, am glad that the shepherd goes after the one sheep, that the woman searched for the one coin, that the father runs out to the returning son. I am glad that Jesus receives me and eats with me.
I am glad that Jesus receives me and eats with me.
This doesn’t mean that we have to move across the world to be missionaries. This doesn’t mean that we have to quit our job and start a nonprofit. It doesn’t mean I can’t live near a Christian friend or hang out with a guy from community group. It just means that Jesus would have us be intentional. It’s not always a question of, “Where do you want me to go God?”, but rather, “What would You have me do while I am here?”
Where is the one place this week that we can choose to begin to incarnate the Gospel? What’s the one routine we can change for a purpose? How can we begin to be more hospitable to those around us who do not know Jesus? How can we make sure we are not just present, but present and engaged?