-by Pastor Mike Middaugh
Worshiping in a community of believers on Sunday is a wonderful part of our Christian life, but how do we experience God’s work and God’s Kingdom every day, especially in terms of our interactions with other people? That question is the topic I want to explore over the next few weeks. Here is The Kingdom Lived Out Pt. 1.
Being missional, or on mission, theologically means “to be sent.” It is living in light of the active and dynamic call of God, a God who does not stay still. Being sent also means leaving. Leaving some thing or some place behind in order to engage the new. A great Biblical example of this is Abraham. In order to follow God’s call he first had to leave – leave the land of his ancestors in Ur and go to the place where God was sending him. Another example is Peter. Peter, in a vision from God, was called to leave the traditions and practices of his Jewish roots in order to carry the gospel to those of other races and backgrounds.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am not always good at leaving. An introvert more than an extrovert by nature, I am more comfortable around people I know than those I don’t. It is easier for me to spend a day working in the office than it is to be out with people, especially if it involves the unknown.
Yet, I believe that leaving is so often what God calls us to. Getting out, beyond our own walls, escaping our own comforts in order to be in community with others. Meeting new people, sharing experiences, and sometimes the deeper matters of the heart. Only in community and by building relationships can we truly care for others and know their needs, responding not just with a handout, but with a hug.
I also believe this is the future of the church. Surely you have seen the statistics that say the Christian Church in America is shrinking. Fewer people attend than 50 years ago. In order to build the church and spread the gospel today we have to do what God’s people have always done – leave our comforts and follow the call of God.
Here are four simple ways we can leave – extending ourselves into the lives of others:
Hosting dinners or doing dinner out – with those we don’t know well.
Doing what you love with others – shared experiences have a way of building relationships like little else. When you are doing what you love, it will be easier and more natural to build connections.
Going out of your way to build relationships – pray for neighbors, new aquantances, and friends in specific ways. Then look for opportunities to deepen the relationship, to explore how God might be using you in their life.
Looking for chances to talk – ask a question. It feels too personal, but so often people appreciate you taking the time to ask or see how they are. The simplest questions can lead to the deepest conversations.
In these experiences we will find opportunities to care for others, and at the same time we will find that God is caring for us.