The Multiplying Community: How All of Us Join Together to Fulfill God's Purpose
I'm continuing along in the Radical Read-Along and have been seeing confirmation everywhere about the things I'm reading, the things God is convicting me about. It makes me excited (and, honestly, a little nervous) about what God may have in store for me and my family.
But after reading this week's chapter, I must admit something. If I'm really being truthful about my entire spiritual walk thus far, I would have to say I've had a "gimme" attitude about it. I have mostly been a RECEIVER. I have attended conferences and concerts so I could be fed. I have spiritual cravings, and I want them satisfied. I sit in church thinking, "How does this apply to me and my life?" There's nothing wrong with that in and of itself. But most of the time, at least with me, it stops there. It stops with me. As if I am the "end of the story"! As if God just wants ME to hear and learn and grow.
Jesus, on the other hand, (and isn't He always on the other hand from me?!) was a REPRODUCER. He spent His entire life with twelve chosen men, building into their lives, teaching them, amazing them, growing them, loving them, and knowing them (and all their flaws).
At our church we have a saying: "Who is pouring into you...and who are you pouring into?"
Paul and I have had first-hand experience with what it's like to have people pouring into you. In fact, lots of different people have touched our lives and taught us things, but one couple in particular really challenged us, guided us, loved us, and truly mentored us more than any of the others combined. And it all started out quite simply by inviting us into their home, being willing to share their very valuable time with us, and just living out their lives in front of us. It was a wonderful time of growth for us, though certainly not an easy time. (I'm sure it wasn't easy for our friends, either!)
But what they did is what WE are called to do. We are called to make disciples. How? By welcoming people into our lives...by loving them...and then by teaching them.
This kind of discipleship, though, is not very common. Some of the blame here lies in the way church and other social groups are often structured. MOST of the time, we tend to flock together with people LIKE us. Usually to people our age and people with whom we have things in common. Paul and I have long felt a desire to be mentors to those coming behind us, but too often small groups at church are cliquish and lack real lived-out wisdom because all the "wise guys" (and I don't mean that how it sounds) are in their very own group, while all the "young'uns" are leading themselves, basically, in THEIR own group. Has this been anybody else's experience?
But I'll certainly have to pick up some of the blame myself. Because WE haven't done for someone else what our friends did for us. And we could. We just haven't. And we have no plausible excuse. Of course, it's not all about building into those who already know Christ. It's also about reaching out to those who don't. And my confession is this: I have been much too caught up in the cooking/cleaning/diaper/laundry/discipline/exhaustion that my life seems to MOSTLY be about. Too caught up to have ANY time for anyone else in the world, this city, or even my own neighborhood. I barely have time for the people I KNOW, much less the ones I don't. And I really think it's deep down because I don't WANT to find the time. It would be too much effort. And I want my life to be easy. And speed-bump free. (Because it's all about me.) Frankly.
The fact is, though, we are responsible for teaching God's Word to others on a daily basis. This firstly starts at home with the children we've been blessed to raise as God's own. It is our job to teach them every day and in every moment about God. Again, I confess that much of the time I'm far too concerned with the unimportant practical stuff rather than the all-important spiritual stuff that I've been called to pass down. God keeps having to hit me over the head (which hurts, doesn't it?) with the question, "Does this matter? Does it advance my kingdom here on earth? Are you equipping warriors for the cross today?"
And then, heaven knows I could stand to invite someone over every once in a while. Maybe I could even go do something nice for someone I don't even know, for the purpose of actually GETTING to know them and then introducing them to Jesus Christ. There's a concept!
So what does this mean for me right now?? It means not being so self-focused when I hear God's Word being preached. Instead of thinking, "What can I get out of this?" I need to be thinking, "How can I listen to His Word so that I am equipped to teach this Word to others?" (quotes by David Platt)
Hmmm...once again. Taking the focus off of ME...and putting it back where it belongs. On God. And what it is HE wants for the world and for the individuals in the world. And then having JOY in getting to be a part of that process! JOY in the responsibility. Because it matters above all else! Christians need to be known less for what they DON'T do...and more for what they DO. (Ouch.)
So what am I DOing
And in what ways do my actions show my belief (or unbelief) in God?
Have I made any more impact on the world than I did before I was saved?
Wow. Do I really want to answer those questions?
"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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." --Matt. 28:19-20