As I was doing homework yesterday, a new friend walked up to my table and we got to talking about ministry and diversity. I shared how I have been convicted lately about the fact that I only am friends with/minister to people who are essentially just like me. She went on to say, “You know, that’s what I have noticed about you and your friends…” “What do you mean?” I asked. She explained,
“You guys have a great community. You love eachother well, you talk about Jesus, and most of you reach out to high school students and share the gospel with them. Thats great. But when you come back to Oxford, that stops. You all have the same ministry, the same friends, you work together, live together, worship together, dress the same, have similar extracurriculars, interests, and lingo, and for the most part, you are all part of the college of education, arts, and science. Basically, you are like a little self-sustaining bubble– like a commune. All you need is to start making butter and sandals and you would look pretty similar to the Amish.”
Now, nothing against the Amish, but I was extremely convicted for myself about how I am so complacent with this. None of those things above are “bad” (maybe a bit exaggerated) but why am I not bringing people outside of our great community, in? Why am I not showing people, who currently live in darkness, a picture of what it looks like to live in the light? Why am I not verbally proclaiming my hope?
Yesterday at the Oaks, we analyzed the way we as a church do mission. Luke 10: 1-20 shed light on our lives and convicted us that we are selfish with the gospel. In my life, I used to go to my designated city of ministry, hang out with high-schoolers, sometimes talk about Jesus (but usually just go swinging and sing really loud to Taylor Swift songs because I was more concerned with keeping a friendship and “winning the right to be heard” than being an agent of the gospel), and then I would come back to Oxford and feel entitled to check out, relax, and spend all of my life with believers who are exactly like me. Don’t get me wrong- I think there is something to be said for being refreshed in fellowship and being poured into by believers- THIS IS ESSENTIAL; God calls us to this. If we are not meeting regularly to speak and hear the Gospel to and from each other, we will forget our motivation to persevere. But so often I think we can justify our laziness with “community.” For me, hanging out with non-Christians (even doing a group project) made me feel “put-out”–I was and still am self-absorbed and just want to be comfortable.
“To understand the gospel, there is no room for selfishness.” -Kevin Jamison
We been delivered from the dominion of darkness! We have been brought into the Kingdom of Christ! Because Jesus died, we get the opportunity to be Christ’s workmanship (Eph. 2:9-10) We have been saved to good works that have been prepared for us BY GOD! And we are called to alleviate suffering in the world by bringing the good news of Jesus to hurting places wherever we are! (Isaiah 61)
Since I have stopped leading, my eyes have been opened to how selfish I am. When I would come back from Springboro, I felt entitled to turn the ministry switch off. After all, ministry is exhausting, right? Not if the gospel is your motivation its not.
So this is my conviction. I may be the only one in my community who struggles with this, but I doubt it. Here is what I do know: I can repent. And I want to. I just want to be proclaiming the gospel one, for God’s glory, two, to express my joy and gratitude for the very God who made me alive, and three, so that people I love can know and treasure Jesus as Lord and by his will and power be brought from the dominion of darkness.
Let’s do this. Let’s love people here. I have been so encouraged lately as I see this vision catching on around me and its been cool to see many of my friends reaching out to their class friends or co-workers! Let’s bring non-believers into our times of fellowship and hanging out. Let’s invite people to hear truth spoken at the Oaks and in our community groups! Let’s look for the opportunities that God has given us to share life and the Gospel with non-believers; to build relationships with people in our classes or even at the random picnic table we choose to sit down at. After all..
26And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us.” (Acts 17)
People around us have been placed in our presence to feel their way towards God! What a calling we have and We are not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe! (Romans 1:16) Amen.