Very truly I tell you, all who have faith in me will do the works I have been doing,
Its very clear that if we take a look at the things that Jesus was doing, we must be taking seriously our calling as followers of Him. We must be taking part in issues of justice, loving radically, being a servant, humility, proclaiming that Jesus is the One we have been waiting for, becoming disciples and discipling others.
We must be actively seeking to be involved in these things or we cannot call ourselves followers of Jesus. There can be no sitting on the sidelines. There is no choice here. We either start taking part in these things or we don’t call ourselves followers of Him.
I pray that we continue to learn better (cause i believe God is working in us already) what it means to be a community that does this well. After my sermon on Sunday I heard someone ask, “I want to do this, but what do I do? Where do I start?”
While i think its impossible for me to give universal ways for all Christians to live, I think there are a few things we can do as starting points. These are right off the top of my head so I am sure I’ll miss some. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments…
1. Take your discipleship seriously.
I am coming to believe that one of the most “missional” things we can do is to do the hard work of discipleship. Pray. Alot. Let the scriptures become that narrative that defines your life. Find others who will challenge and push you. You need some who will give you a swift kick to the pants when you’re missing the mark and you need some who will remind you of grace at the same time. For a great list of questions to ask as you read the scriptures look here: Missional Bible Study. For a great prayer resource, look here.
2. Start small and open your eyes.
I get the feeling that there are many more opportunities around us than we ever know. I used to pray “God give me opportunities to share your grace with others.” Now I pray, “God, let me recognize the opportunities that you put before me and give me the courage to act on them.” There are opportunities right there if we will just open our eyes enough to notice them.
3. Act on the crazy ideas you have before they really become too crazy.
I can’t tell you how many times I have thought of a radical, outrageous and strange way to serve someone else, but before I did it I found a way to convince myself that it was just a crazy idea and not realistic.
4. Make conscious choices to give up comforts you don’t need.
This is one especially for us suburbans. We’ve grown accustomed to getting whatever we want whenever we want it. We set aside evenings to watch certain television shows, budget Starbucks in to our lives and convince ourselves that we need the newest technology. While these things aren’t inherently evil, I have been challenged (and have so far been pretty bad at following through) to give up some of my “comforts” and move those resources (time, money, etc.) towards something more redemptive.
5. Find out where God’s kingdom is not present and be an alternative option.
In your work is there some kind of injustice taking place? In your town is there a certain people group that are being unfairly treated? In your neighborhood, is there a house that everyone avoids? In your school, is there someone who is an outcast? Ask God to open your eyes to the ways the kingdom of this world is ruling and how you can be part of being an alternative to that reality.
6. Pray. Alot.
Pray regularly alone. Pray regularly with your community. Pray whlie you drive. Pray while you take a shower. Pray regularly with the Church universal through things like the divine hours and other liturgical prayer books. Pray. Pray. Pray and then pray some more.
7. Reject Individualism
In our culture, it takes major effort to live in community. It will not just “happen naturally.” What happens naturally is that we become isolated from our community of faith. We drive to work alone, sit in our cubicle alone, drive home alone and sit in our living room and watch prime time TV alone (even if we are watching with someone else, we may as well be alone). While we can’t avoid all these things totally, make some efforts to be intentional about being in community. Schedule regular coffee / breakfast with someone before work, take a walk through your neighborhood and say hi to your neighbors, instead of watching television have some friends over for games, host people in your home for dinner, etc.
In my message i referenced a blog post that David Duchemien put up with a short excerpt from Desmond Tutu. Its an amazingly challenging read. Here is David’s short response:
But it cost something, this following. Something. It costs all. My God it’s so hard to pry loose the grip of my hands and my heart on these grubby pebbles of ambition when you offer diamonds instead.
The kingdom of Heaven is not only a gift but an exchange. To grasp the greater requires we relinquish the lesser. He can only fill us to the extent that we’re willing to tip the bucket and empty ourselves.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what we can practically do to give our lives for the sake of the gospel…what do you think? Add your comments below…