True Outreach Occurs from One Heart to Another
by Patrick Roberts 12/11/2007 / Missions
Christ will free us to demonstrate His grace. We needn't try so hard to make Him evident to other people in ways that make sense to the flesh. When Christ consumes our estimations of success, we will naturally spill out from where we are into the rest of the world. We will be who we are in Christ without excessive deliberation.
The more experience we have following God's Spirit, the more we will look out upon our obedience to Him as a vast horizon, studded and radiant with all the endless possibilities of Christ.
When the Spirit of God endorses the church of the west His Presence here will be unmistakable as well as immeasurable. Therefore our first order of obedience is to seek more of God's all-consuming Presence. I don't mean anything elusive or mystical. The Presence of the Lord among us should be our most valued and practical asset.
Our first inclination might be toward bigger, flashier billboards that scream brightness and electronic amplification. We might be tempted to say, "Let's try harder!" But God requires something much deeper and much more thorough than anything that our eyes or imaginations can measure. If you really want to know how this might work out, then ask Christ. He should already be our Head Strategist in any case. If we simply ask and seek Christ we will discover that He Himself embodies all the opportunities we will ever need.
The Lord will use those who are faithfully dependent on Him, regardless of their worldly qualifications, regardless of whether they have ever heard of the strategies church experts uphold and admire.
It is most useful for us to perceive ourselves and the world around us from Christ's eternal, Spirit-based perspective. However, it is entirely useless to look back on our past and talk about "the way things used to be," or "the way things should be." We have more than enough to absorb our attention right in front of us.
As of now, the westernized church is not perceivably different from its western surroundings. It is impossible for people across the world to tell where western ideals end and the church of the west begins. Western churchgoers are not a product of Christ so much as a product of western culture.
Current reality is that the western church is sending missionaries from a home base that leads the world in Godless distraction. This fact, though solemn, might still be encouraging for those that take it the right way in Christ. For example, if Jesus says we don't have even a mustard seed of faith, then we should accept this as useful information. By knowing how clueless we are, we can at least be on the same page as God.
Another useful spiritual truth is that there's no quick or painless method for establishing God's kingdom. Wholehearted Godliness is especially difficult when our starting point is wholehearted Godlessness.
It will help us to adopt this sobering conviction, that true outreach occurs as the true state of one heart affects the true state of another. In other words, the quality of our lives is already conveying what we really believe whether we like it or not. If we are influenced by something other than Christ then our gospel will be thus perverted.
We have all, at some time, witnessed the effect that one selfish, greedy, worrisome, perverted, insecure heart can have on another. This might have been the true state of our own hearts affecting others or visa versa or a combination of both. This occurs in the unseen places, both inside and outside of church walls.
So what kind of effect does your heart have on other people?
We Americans should weep with repentance as long as our gospel amounts to "Listen to what we say, but don't look at what we do." The glaring contradictions of our religion should spur us toward checking ourselves in God's sight.
As of now people in far-off places have every reason to disregard the words of American missionaries. How can a world leader in general self-centeredness lead the world in Christ-centeredness?
Let's be glad that we are just as puny as any civilization that has ever existed from God's perspective. If God uses us American churchgoers in His kingdom, it will be in spite of us, not because of us. But then again, this is also the case for any people who know how desperate they are for God's daily mercy and grace. All things considered, we do well to take this opportunity to humble ourselves in regards to our relationship to God.