You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Matthew 10:10 The Message
We need to do something!
A woman recently challenged me to do something about a specific social concern she was passionate about. I listened to her rant and rave about the situation. She was far more educated about it than I originally thought. The startling thing was when she suggested I wasn't as committed a Christian because I did not share her passion nor her enthusiasm about her specific concern. It was as if, "I didn't care." Her cajoling continued as her judgment of the condition of my character had become her primary target. If you know me well, you must know the harder she pushed the more stubborn I became. I disconnected.
My disconnect also meant that I had an out when it came to caring about a social issue. It's easy to invent an internal blanket statement like "those people are just over the top" or "they all are like that." I can hastily make a snap judgment and lose interest in the concerns of this world I am pretty sure God cares deeply about. For example, I think God cares about how we respect one another's viewpoints-even if they are radically different than our own. To respect another person is to value them first as a child of God and secondly as someone who has the capacity to do great things for God. They could even change the world.
I needed to repent.
So, I needed to repent. I disrespected her, the issue and God. I sometimes confuse the messenger with the message. I believe God was trying to get my attention and I was dodging the issue. I found it completely justifiable to ignore the issue because of the delivery system. I couldn't just say "I'm sorry" to God and make an empty promise that I wouldn't let that happen again. If I was to truly repent, I needed to change my attitude and my behavior. I took a deep breath, swallowed my pride and went back to the woman. I apologized for clicking off but also shared with her that her tone was not only accusatory but actually put me into a defense mode. I disconnected to protect myself. She stared at me for a few seconds and went right on with her rant. Has something like this ever happened to you?
Kevin Harney of Organic Outreach fame suggests: "As our hearts grow healthy, we can engage our minds and think deeply about ways that a church can take the good news of Jesus to the world. We think strategically and make shifts in how we do our ministry. We remove roadblocks to evangelism as we infuse the value of outreach into every level of the church." I really like Kevin's word choice healthy. I think he means outreach can be infused into everyone's heart as our hearts become more like the heart of Jesus. Once our hearts become more in-tune with his, we can engage our minds to develop strategies to include others in what God wants to accomplish. I think we can even become more effective at meeting Kingdom goals and fulfilling our mission here on earth.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
All of this takes a lot of practice. I think it requires a team of trusted Christian friends and an occasional "repentance opportunity" to keep us focused on effectively responding to God's leadership in our churches and in our personal lives. Don't miss the moment the next time God reaches into your soul to capture your attention. It will most likely be an issue or behavior that needs your energy and attention. Beware of the messenger as they deliver the message. One great indicator that God wants your attention can be the last opportunity you had to either engage or disengage with another child of God. It could be your spouse, parent, child or friend. Keep your eyes open even our enemies can carry messages for us. Outreach doesn't have to take place in a far away land or during an emotional worship experience. Sharing the good news about what Jesus Christ has done in your heart can happen in our own homes with the people we love the most.
Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Matthew 10:5 The Message