I can remember a conversation with my wife years ago where I described my life as seeming as if it was a constant battle. I think that is a pretty common feeling for many of us.
But what I didn’t realize at the time is that my life was a constant battle because I was resisting God. And when you resist God, you forfeit the peace of God. You do not have peace about what comes after this life. And you do not have peace about what is happening in this one.
You simply will never have a sense of sustained peace in your life without an active relationship with God. And you cannot have an active relationship with God without coming to a point of faith in Jesus.
THE AGENT OF CHANGE
Jesus was the change agent for my life. And He can be for you too. I encourage you above all else to seek Jesus in your life. You will never be at peace without Him. I speak from experience.
A couple of interesting things that Jesus changed in my life were my attitude and my language. I mean there was a noticeable difference that made people take notice.
It pains me now to think about how many times I had used the phrase “They can go to hell as far as I care!”
What a terrible attitude! What a horrible expression!
How could such hateful words have been a part of my vocabulary? How could I ever have shown such an attitude of indifference toward another human being. But there was a time that I didn’t really give it a second thought.
But now, the thought of people going to hell breaks my heart. And even though I am uncomfortable talking about it, that does and is happening. To be blunt, we are all on that path until Jesus changes that direction for us. Again, I encourage you above all else to seek Jesus in your life.
But even though that thought breaks my heart, how often do I act with an attitude of indifference to those that do not know Jesus. I’m afraid it is more often that I would like to admit. I mean, do I really care about those that are living in obvious rejection of Jesus? And even if I say that I care, what do I do to show that care?
HINDERANCES TO CHANGE
The uncomfortable truth is that many of us, as individuals and our churches collectively, have little to offer those outside our faith community. The overwhelming majority of our resources and efforts are focused on serving those within our own four walls. Admit it or not, there is often an attitude of indifference toward the spiritual health of those that have no spiritual health.
We may do an excellent job at teaching, caring, discipling, connecting, supporting, and evangelizing within our own structures. But we leave those outside our faith structure to fend for themselves.
There are tons of examples, but two that are really on my mind at the moment are in the hot button issues of abortion and drug abuse.
We get fighting mad over abortion. And we should. But what spiritual help and hope are we offering to young people that have absolutely no structure in their lives to give them any spiritual help and hope to begin with? Could we have an impact on the abortion issue before it ever becomes a personal issue? Not if we are waiting for them to come to church.
And statistics indicate that the drug overdose death rate among young minority males is doubling every two years. Yet it seems that we are largely missing in action in the battle to influence these young people toward Christ.
I know this may offend you, but it seems as if we are demonstrating an attitude of indifference that says that these people “can go to hell as far as we care”.
OK, maybe a bit strong. But I hope you will at least consider my point.
AN ENVIRONMENT FOR CHANGE
I understand that we are each given a particular sphere of influence to operate within. And I understand that God has given none of us the job of reaching the entire world.
But it seems to me that almost every interaction where Jesus touched and transformed a life was done on that person’s turf. Likewise, I think if we are going to partner with Jesus in His redemptive work, we too are going to have to interact with the world on its turf- not ours.
I was blessed a few years ago to be part of a missional effort where we saw a dynamic movement of God out in a particular community. Make no mistake, God did it; not us. But He did allow us the opportunity to partner with Him. And He did allow us to learn some lessons. Lessons that might be of help to you and your church:
You or your church must seek ways to establish relationships with “outsiders”. Most people you interact with have no intention of ever attending your church. So you must find a way to be of influence with them in the context of their daily lives.
Missional efforts often fail because we go into communities with the idea of how we want to do things. But that is not the way Jesus did it. He often simply asked people what they needed from Him. Likewise, we can seek out individuals, groups, or communities and simply ask them how we can be of help. And then adopt them into our care structure.
Our invitation style is most often “Come and See”. But we must transition to a style of “Go and Show”. Until we go out and gain the trust of those outside communities by our love and care, we will be limited in our impact. They need to feel so comfortable with us that they begin to invite us into their lives.
The model of Jesus was to intentionally put Himself into situations where He could minister to the lost. The mission of Jesus was not directed at the righteous but to the lost. Likewise, He still asks us to partner with Him in that mission. But that will be hindered until our focus shifts outward.
Jesus met people where they were. He went into their rhythm of life. He still does that. Many people today see no relevance of church in their lives. They simply are not going to alter their rhythms to fit into ours. If we want to partner with Jesus in meeting people where they are, the adjustments are going to have to come from us- not them.
6. Removing Barriers
Jesus simply ignored borders, barriers, and comfort zones in order to reach the lost. It is precisely our reluctance to cross the barriers and our tendency to stay within our comfort zones that contribute to our attitudes of indifference. And this indifference toward removing all the barriers to Christ will have an eternal cost.
Jesus modeled service like no other. He commonly addressed physical and emotional needs before He addressed spiritual needs. That seems a good example for us. It is our acts of service that may eventually lead a person to give Jesus their consideration.
So maybe you have never been guilty of using that horrendous expression that I once used and maybe you have never shown such an attitude. But could it be that there is some level of indifference in us that is hindering the message and mission of Jesus?
“Lord, please don’t let a single one miss heaven or your peace on earth due to my indifference.”