Leaving the Comfort of Home
Yesterday I was asked to share about our house churches’ approach to mission with some leaders at a local congregation here in my city. And this opportunity has had me mulling over what has helped us as we’ve followed Jesus into the harvest.
But one of the ideas that I’m having trouble shaking is the idea of how comfortable a Christian subculture can be. It’s a common thing–I’ve seen it in my life and the lives of others–that when we give our lives to Christ we often also join a church. And each church often desires to draw us into its influence–sometimes for good and sometimes for poor reasons.
Whether it was for good reasons or bad reasons, this can have the effect of limiting our influence among the lost. We can spend time building relationships, practicing disciplines, and enjoying the benefits of being the church…and all of these things are good in their place. But all of this can also steal us away from spending time with those who need us the most–the lost.
I’ve also seen believers in the pursuit of holiness and closeness to Jesus pull away from the world. They want purity and distance from temptation–and again, this is good. However, we can develop our own little Christian ghettos–places so secluded from the world–that we become judgemental toward the sin of the world. We aren’t able to lovingly interact with a world that is just as lost as we were. In fact, we look down on it.
Enjoying relationships and pursuing holiness aren’t bad things in the right context. But we have to be willing to “leave the comforts of home” so to speak. We have to be willing to forsake the benefits of Christian culture in order to reach a non-Christian one. All cross-cultural missionaries know the pain and power of this vital step. As part of a church you love, you have greatly benefited. But because of the call of Jesus to a particular mission field, you have to leave the church that you’ve benefited from in order to start a church where there is none.
I believe God is calling more than just a handful of people to cross the ocean and live out this reality. Instead, God is calling His entire church to take on the identity of a missionary and that will mean having to leave the culture of Western Christianity and crossing into the worlds of the inner city, the business world, and even suburban soccer moms. Not all of us will cross oceans, but all of us can re-arrange our schedules, change how we spend money, and change how we relate to the unsaved.
There’s nothing wrong with home. It’s just that unbelievers don’t live there. The world by and large has stopped coming to our doors for answers. And the ones who truly, really need the gospel certainly aren’t swinging by for another meeting. So you’ll have to go to them and get used to living near them. But take heart, you’re in good company. God has already gone ahead of you.
More on that tomorrow…