Community

Everyday Missionaries

Are you a missionary? I am. I’m not always a faithful missionary. I’m not always an effective missionary. But I am a missionary… and so are you. All who follow Christ are given the mission to make disciples as we go along the road of life. Some are sent overseas. Some are sent to unreached places. Some are freed up to do this vocationally. But we’re all sent into the world together as communities of missionaries (John 20:21).

We talk about this often with our church. We try to help everyone embrace their identity as a missionary and a vital member of a missionary community (Life Group). For some, this can seem overwhelming, so I want to offer a few practical ideas that can help us approach everyday life as everyday missionaries.

Be regulars
We’ve seen people become a part of our community through relationships built at stores, gyms, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, parks, hospitals and grocery stores. These relationships rarely develop through a single encounter. They grow over time and with regular interactions. Go to the same places for your regular routines. Go to the same coffee shop regularly and build a relationship with the baristas. Go to the same gym at the same time each week and build relationships. Go to the same library at the same story-time session weekly with your kids, and become a part of that community. Shop at the same grocery store at a regular time and go to the same check out each time. Be intentional about visiting the same places for your weekly activities. Get to know the people, remember their names, ask about their kids and their weeks and follow up next time you see them. Before long, you’ll find out that you’re becoming friends.

Build friendships
New friendships require time together — whether it is with your neighbors, coworkers or other people you have met along the road. Eat meals together, go to parks together, watch sporting games together, do hobbies together — just do something together that allows you to share your life, listen, learn and love. In our culture, people will recognize an agenda-driven, salesman approach to friendship. We must actually love people — whether or not they ever come to believe. When you are genuinely friends with someone, they will trust you and listen to your perspective more readily, and they will more readily share their true reasons for not yet believing.

“Show & Tell” the grace of God
As friendships grow, we must model honesty about our own brokenness. Most people imagine Christians to be either clean and put together or hypocrites, so they feel the need to pretend like they have it together. This proclivity to maintain a façade of righteousness hinders us from proclaiming and celebrating the grace of God. Because of God’s grace in Christ, we can be real about who we are — our struggles, our trials, our failures and our joys. We don’t want to boast in our sin, but we do want to be honest about it so that we can boast in the Cross where we have received grace. As friends begin to let us into their lives, we must show God’s grace to them as we accept them, and we must be bold to share with them the good news of God’s grace in Christ.

Invite friends into your community
Introducing unbelievers to your community of believing friends is one of the most neglected, yet important aspects of introducing people to Jesus. Practically, this is the same as building friendships, but it requires finding ways to build friendships with unbelieving friends and believing friends simultaneously. When people see your individual life and your love, they see one good person. When they meet your believing friends, they will (hopefully) meet a community of grace, a community of honest and broken people, a community of servants and a community that loves God’s truth. They will meet the Body of Christ. Your community displays God to the world because God is in you (i.e. y’all). When broken people are accepted by God’s people, they begin to understand that God will accept them too, because of Jesus. Often people come into a real relationship with God after first coming into a meaningful relationship with His people.

Pray like missionaries
If we are God’s missionaries, then we must pray like missionaries. We must pray for opportunities for ourselves and for one another. We must pray for readiness. We must pray for Spirit-filled love. We must pray for patience. We must pray for wisdom. We must pray for awakening. Unless God graciously acts, we will never see people come to new life in Christ. So, above all, we must pray for God to awaken our friends to the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Apologetics for Everyone

1 Peter 3:14-16 – But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason (Greek: apologian) for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

a•pol•o•get•ics | əˌpäləˈjetiks |

When people think of apologetics, they typically think of some sort of intellectual debate or argument defending the Christian faith against some form of intellectual opposition. Though there are contexts where this type of debating can be helpful, this is not what apologetics was meant to be.

1 Peter 3:15 is the classic text from which the term apologetics comes from. People often take the verse to mean something like, “always be prepared to defend Christianity.” This leads people to spend time learning intellectual rebuttals to intellectual attacks on the faith. The reality is though, that’s not what Peter was talking about. In the context of the letter, Peter is encouraging suffering Christians to live as God’s distinct and holy people. Specifically in chapter 3, he is encouraging these persecuted Christians to have unity, sympathy, love, and humility toward all people; to refrain from retaliation, to love their enemies, to seek peace with all people, all the while looking to Jesus as the supreme example of this type of faithful witness. Peter knows that when the Christian community lives this unique type of life, it will inevitably provoke questions about the source of this unusual and attractive hope.

“How is it that you all can love like you do?” “How can you remain faithful in the face of suffering?” “Why do you serve people who mistreat you?” “Where does your hope come from?” Peter says, when these questions come, be prepared to give a reason (apologia) for the hope that is in you?

Apologetics then, is answering the questions raised by the distinctive lifestyle of our Christian community.

If this is the case, the main question for us as the Christian community is: Are we actually living in a way that would provoke these types of questions? Is our lifestyle distinct from the world’s? Do we love people that are unlovable? Do we serve people who are thankless and unappreciative? Do we have hope in the midst of suffering? Do we give to those in need even when it hurts? And do we do these things in context where this love can be seen and experienced by those who do not know Christ?

In other words, is our Christian community an attractive light in the midst of a broken city? And are we living in a way to make that light visible to the people around us who still live in darkness?

How to Fight against the Pull of the World

In a world full of God-ignoring philosophies, how can we remember who we really are in Christ?  How can we actively fight against the pull of the world that begs for us to ignore God and focus on the things that will fade away?  Listen to this less-than-2-minute excerpt from a sermon John Piper preached on “How Aliens Keep the Identity of Their Homeland”. [audio:http://thecrossingfc.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/Living-As-Aliens-Excerpt.mp3|titles=How Aliens Keep the Identity of Their Homeland – John Piper]