In my last post I wrote briefly about a book my dear friend Rachel Hyde gave me for Christmas, and how God was using it in my life. The book, "Interrupted" has had quite an impact on me. Well, since that post I have finished the book. The day I finished it, I literally sat in the floor of our guest room and cried (one of many times this happened while reading this book). I have been completely taken aback by this book. In a good way, of course. And I have tried, for the last week, to put into words all that God has shown me by reading "Interrupted", but I just can't seem to put it into words. So, you will just have to read the book. You should. It has the potential to change your life. I guarantee that at the minimum it will bring you to a crossroads and you will have to make a decision....one way or the other. So don't say I didn't warn you.
What I can say about my life after reading this book is that God has opened my eyes to the way in which I HAVE NOT been living a missional life. The spell check has underlined the world "missional" like it isn't a real word, but I promise it soooo is (or maybe I just spelled it wrong....but I don't think so).
So let's see...here is how I have been living my life as a Christian up to this point.... I attend church regularly, serve regularly IN THE CHURCH, listen to as much Toby Mac and other awesome rockin' Christian music as possible, hang out with CHRISTIAN friends, etc., etc. All very wonderful and good things. Please DO NOT hear me say that these are not beneficial things. They are, and have encouraged me, strengthened me, and filled my life with the Spirit. Good things!
However, they do not replace the mission that Jesus gave to all believers, which is found in Matthew 28- to GO (keyword) and make DISCIPLES (other key word). You see, I am afraid that in my well-intention-ed Christian life I have become so full of Christian "things" (like knowledge, music, friends, etc.) and have spent so much of my time and effort filling myself with these things that I have become spiritually obese. Too much going in (to me, and the church only), not enough going out (to the world).
Yes, I am definitely dangerously spiritually obese. Dangerous because as I have learned in a very painful way, lots of filling ourselves with Christian knowledge and not going out into the world but only using our skills and knowledge in the Church can definitely let pride seep in and puff ourselves up. I never thought of myself as a prideful person (hello, red flag.....how dumb can I be??) but moving to a brand new state and town and attending a church where nobody knows you is pride killer #1. I am truly a nobody, and honestly, that is the way it should be no matter where we are. I have found it very painful to be a nobody, (which is very different than not being known by anyone) and all that pain just reveals how much pride I have had inside me. Sorry, but its the truth, and I hope you all will still be my friends. It's not supposed to be about us. Even if we are the best, hardest working, most dedicated servant in the church. Still not about us.
Another danger is that in doing so much in the church and for the church, I have forgotten that Jesus commanded us to "Go"! What a concept! So you mean that I shouldn't expect people who have no interest in church or spiritual things to just magically appear in my church? You mean my life should be a mission to make disciples by the way I live everyday, and not just defined by a few events (great as they may be) that my church holds each year? I should befriend people who make me feel uncomfortable because God created them and Jesus loves them? You mean I should hang out with people who live in "the bad part of town" and don't act very Christian like because God created them and Jesus loves them too? I should give my money (oh yeah, it is all God's anyway), my possessions, and my time (deep breath....that's my most precious commodity) to develop RELATIONSHIPS!!??? with people that I would really like to just ignore? Jesus, are you sure that's what you meant when you said to "Go"!!!???
And Jesus has confirmed, "Yes, Rebecca. If you want to truly 'Go' and to truly 'make disciples' then you have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone in your nice neighborhood with people like you, and give your time, love, money, possessions, whatever it takes, to people that don't know Me and just love them the way I would. Just spend time getting to know them. Just invite them into your home and feed them a meal. Just let your entire life be a mission."
Well, shoot. That was honestly my first thought. This is not exactly what I was hoping for. Because I am already having a tough time making "church" friends, and now you want me to make friends with and serve people whom I really don't even want to get to know???! Well, shoot.
For a few days I had moments where I wished I had never read this book and the scripture contained in it. I wished that I could just go back to the way I use to think about my Christian life. It was much easier, felt more comfortable, and was generally less anxiety provoking. I could think more about things that made me feel happy, like if my foyer table needed a table runner, and things to do in Gatlinburg in February. Anybody feeling me?
But thankfully God continued to put up with me and my pitiful, broken, selfish mess, and I prayed for God to somehow move and to help me makes sense of all this. Then I saw God move in two very specific ways, and I realized that I didn't want to go back. As hard as this new way may be, missing it would be even worse. Missing it would mean not being a part of bringing God's Kingdom to earth. Missing it would mean that I would just grow more and more spiritually obese until I would die. And I didn't want that to happen.
More on those two very specific ways in the next post......stay tuned! But here are the scriptures God has been using to really speak to me:
Matthew 28: 18-20
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with youalways, to the very end of the age."
Matthew 25: 31-46
31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' 37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' 41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' 44 "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' 45 "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' 46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, "God opposes the proud but favors the humble."
In "lighter" and "less heavy spiritual" news: Our guest "suite" (bedroom and bathroom, okay) is now ready and open for visitors. We actually had our first visitors this past weekend- my lifelong best friends came down to watch the Wildcats beat the Gamecocks (Sorry SC people). We had a great time at the game. I miss them so much and one weekend just wasn't enough time to catch up. But I will take what I get :)
Weekends are filling up fast (not really) so make your reservations soon!! Seriously, come and visit us people!!!
Guest Bath- This was previously just a half bath- we were able to steal some space from the new bedroom and add a shower (you can kind of see it in the mirror)
New Bedroom (previously a formal living room....something we would never use:)
Caleb before the finished product...old man look
Finished product....Good Job Dad!
Way to Go Noah!!!
Until next time....all our love from South Carolina.