[ please go back and read the previous two posts for parts one and two ]
Diving right in – the next “death” that I would suggest precedes the Lord showing His glory and His resurrection power is the death of “philosophy only.”
James challenges us to not just be hearers of the Word but doers also. I would suggest that we in the American church, myself included, also ought to not just be talkers of the Word, either. We speak in theoretical and philosophical terms well. Missional. Gospel. Kingdom. Worship. Disciples. But are we actually doing it?
Talk must die and be raised into walk. Let me give a few examples.
We talk a good game about how “everybody plays” and how we must equip people to make disciples. But I fear that little is ACTUALLY done to equip for disciple-making. What are you actually doing to equip followers of Jesus to make disciples? More than just a class in a classroom? Our King did more than that. He got in the thick of the rhythms of the everyday and showed people how the rhythms of the Kingdom of Heaven became “on earth as it is in heaven.” Are you doing that? With people? Who are actually learning and living the ways of Jesus with lost people? If not, talking that game needs to die and be raised to actually do what Jesus intended.
We talk a good game about not wanting to have such a clergy-centered focus. Yet, we don’t actually live this way. The protestant church in America is more clergy-centered than ever, and we wonder why there is not a disciple-making movement in the west. If you are “clergy” (I prefer the word “equipper personally), what kind of energy are you putting into resourcing followers of Jesus to be making disciples among their family, their neighbors, their marketplace, and their world? Or are you just trying to motivate them to plug into your ideas and vision for the church? If you are “laity” (I prefer the word “saint” or “follower” or “one who now carries the keys to the Kingdom and is fully empowered to do all that God desires to be done by His people on this earth), are you just living FOR God or living WITH Him? Are you trying to attain to personal spiritual goodness or living on mission to share the goodness of God with others? May we die to clergy-centered focus and live as the priests and kings and sent ones that His death and resurrection have transformed us to become. This will require something very specific – a growing security in the “clergy” to let go of control of what isn’t their church in the first place AND a growing security in the “laity” to live as though they are a valuable part of the mission of God in the daily.
We talk a good game about wanting to really see those who are lost to find new life in Christ. But are we actually engaging the lost of our communities, coming near to them in love and friendship the way God Himself came near to us as Emmanuel, in hopes that they would see “family” lived out and desire to believe and be called one of the “children of God” along with us? Do you have lost friends who consider you more than just that “church friend?”
We talk a good game about “church” not being about Sunday morning only, and yet how much of our energy and attention and criticism and “choosing of a church” is centered upon the Sunday morning experience?
We talk a good game about our willingness to die for the sake of the glory and the mission of Jesus, but how many of us will go home tonight with little to no thought of the lostness of our cities?
We talk a good game about living sent lives wherever God would lead, unless that meant leaving the south or leaving our comforts or leaving our high-paying jobs.
We need to repent. I need to repent.
Lord, wreck me to quit talking and to be walking with You.
Last installment tomorrow and then some thoughts and insights from the 2011 LIVE SENT Conversation…