Sometimes I feel like I'm living a part of church history that my (hypothetical) kids and grandkids will learn about when they're my age. The generations before me had Billy Graham, Dwight Moody, the Wesleys, Jonathan Edwards... my generation has Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll and John Piper, to name a few. (And I like to refer to them as Marky D and J-Pipe. Just so you know) I have great respect for these men, but I'm the first to admit that sometimes I feel a little bit lost with the Reformed culture of today. I go to an Acts 29 church, and churches in that network tend to espouse things like Truth, Worship, Beauty, Community, Missional Living, etc in their core values. It all sounds so eloquent and right and biblical from the pulpit but sometimes it makes me uncomfortable. I'm not really sure why. Maybe uncomfortable in a "pushing me out of my comfort zone" way. Which is rarely a bad thing. I guess sometimes I think that people get so caught up in pursuing those things that they manage to leave Jesus out of it somehow. But I guess that can be true of any church, regardless of the denomination.
Something I really struggle with is the concept of missional living. The way I understand it, it basically means to love Jesus where you are, work to show others around you (your community) who He is. Pretty much what almost every Christian has heard except it's much more intentional. The pastors at my church, for example, purposefully moved INTO urban core of the city and form friendships with their neighbors, their kids' school friends, etc. I'm not sure why I struggle with this. Sometimes I think it's sneaky, like you have an ulterior motive for loving people. Other times, it just forces me to think about what's more important to me - my safety, health, convenience, etc, or loving Jesus.
But today I think I figured out the underlying issue - being missional means talking to people. To strangers, more specifically. This is so not my forte. Communicating with people I know and love is hard enough - throw a stranger into the mix and we have one very anxious Lucy! :) The thought of forcing myself to meet my neighbors or chat it up with the cashier at the grocery store - even in the name of Jesus - seems exhausting to me. It's so easy for me to write it off and think that well then, I must just not be one of those people who can be that effective in the body of Christ. I've basically tried to convince myself that I'm exempt from Scripture. I know it's fruitless to think so, but kind of funny. I am sure God had a good laugh at that reasoning. :)
Anyway, there's a new church plant in my area and I was reading the pastor's blog. He was talking about missional living and I thought, here we go again. But even though I've heard it before, it felt like I was considering this for the first time: "Do something that you love to do." He gave an example of how his wife loves to bake so she bakes her little heart out and shares the goodies with the neighbors. Not long ago, I was telling a friend of mine that I wanted to volunteer and I knew that hospitals needed people to hold the babies. But I told her I felt kind of selfish - wasn't I just satisfying my own need/desire by wanting to do that? She pointed out that it's ok to do love Jesus by doing something you love.
This isn't really a new concept - I probably heard it as "use the gifts God gave you" when I was growing up. But phrasing it like that seems like an obligation somehow. "Do what you love to the glory of God" sounds more freeing somehow. Like God instilled within me a desire to write, so I can write and do it cheerfully and excitedly and passionately... and isn't that what He wants, anyway? "God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7) And isn't that who HE is anyway? Cheerful and excited and passionate! :)