God has a church for His mission in the world. He has a Church to fulfill His big dream of seeing every nation, tribe, people, and language in heaven one day (Revelation 7:9-10). Yet we, as the church, have seemingly forfeited God’s big dream in three major ways. I’ll address the first one in this article, but list all three for consideration.
- We separated ourselves from the culture Jesus asked us to engage.
- We replaced our primary calling with our secondary professions and in doing so we have become full-time teachers, full-time businessmen, full-time day laborers, full-time ministers, full-time stay at home moms, and lots of “other” full-time people who serve as part-time Christians.
- Lastly, we have forfeited God’s big dream by exchanging the power and authority of Jesus with church growth strategies.
How have we separated ourselves from our culture? We created Christian communities to keep us separate from the world. Churches with gyms, daycares, schools, and sports leagues can, in many ways, keep us “shielded” from the very people Jesus asked us to engage. We have Christian movies, Pureflix instead of Netflix, Christian music, Christian theme parks, and lots of other “Christian” branded items to keep us from interacting with an evil world.
Now before you threaten to throw me off a cliff, let me say, none of these things are bad, in and of themselves. I’m not saying or even implying it’s bad to watch Christian movies, listen to Christian music or participate in Christian sports leagues. All of the things I’ve listed can actually help with and reinforce spiritual growth, if it is approached with the right mindset.
But far too often, people engage with Christian materials and activities as an “escape” from the world instead of as preparation for engaging the world we live in.
Those are two very different approaches to Christian activities.
But maybe you’re wondering, have we really separated ourselves from the world around us? Have we really made the choice to no longer engage with unchurched people?
I’d like to ask you a few questions to reveal just how much we have drifted away from interacting with the people around us. The first question is this: Do you have the names of three unchurched people on a prayer card, or on a prayer app, that you are regularly praying for? If not daily, then at least weekly? Next question, how many times a month do you have unchurched people in your home? Or, how many times a month are you in the home of an unchurched person? Last question: In the last 100 pictures you have taken with people, how many of those pictures included people who are not followers of Jesus?
Now before you start feeling bad about the fact that you may not be very engaged with unchurched people, I want to pause here and say this article is not meant to make you feel bad; rather, it’s simply meant to help us identify some of the challenges we are facing today toward the fulfillment of God’s big dream.
Followers of Jesus who have separated themselves from unchurched people do so because the world is growing increasingly evil. We live in an evil world and it seems dangerous to engage the people around us. It makes sense that we would want to shield ourselves from the evil world we live in. It’s the natural response.
But we are called to live supernatural lives, people who walk in the power and authority of Jesus who said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not, can not, shall not prevail against it!” (Matthew 16:18).
So as the world grows increasingly evil, we must become increasingly brave and run into the conflict, knowing all authority and power has been given to us to turn this world upside down in Jesus’ name!
We must remember that we have not been asked to serve as peace keepers, but rather we are called to be peace makers. Peace makers head into conflict zones and create peace, because Jesus is with them.
But how can we do that? How can we engage the people around us instead of separate ourselves from them? Carl Medearis points out in his book, 42 Seconds, “our goal is simply for Jesus to be a natural part of our lives and everyday interactions with people.”¹ He further lays out a plan of engaging people as Jesus did; be kind, be present and be brave. Kindness starts with a simple hello. When was the last time you simply said “hello” to your neighbors or coworkers? Then, we learn to remain “present” in a conversation. Lastly, we become brave in those conversations, offering to pray with people and encourage them in life. When we learn to become kind, present and brave, we become Jesus for others.
A simple way to begin engaging your neighbors is to utilize something called Bless Every Home (www.blesseveryhome.com). When you sign-up online to be a light in your neighborhood, you are given access to your neighborhood demographics with the ability to pray, care and share with your neighbors. This free tool provides you with a daily email, listing five of your neighbors to pray a scriptural prayer over. You can then record your engagements with them, as you learn to become kind, present and brave (to pray, care and share with them).
Let’s not forfeit God’s big dream by separating ourselves from the people around us. Instead, let’s go online to www.blesseveryhome.com, watch a short video describing our opportunity to engage with others, and then sign-up to become a light in our neighborhoods.
We’d Love to hear from you!
How have you tried to engage with the people around you? Share your comments below.
1 Medearis, Carl. 42 Seconds: The Jesus Model for Everyday Interactions. pg. 3