Monday, February 11, 2008

Seperation...huh?

I’m an evangelist, I’m a missionary, I’m a preacher, I’m a deacon, I’m a lay person, I’m just a visitor… Why the separation? Just because you have a spiritual gift doesn’t mean you are only responsible for that one.

So a friend that I had lunch with tells me he is at this pastor/church planters’ conference a few days ago. They were split up into groups and the two he was with were from a church that owned several acres of land, but had a very small run down building. Because they have this land they allow the local YMCA to use it for sporting events, which occur 5 days a week. So he listens to these two pastors who are passionate about evangelism just go on and on about how they can become evangelist, how they can more people to hear the good news, etc. There is this frustration of seeing someone who is so intent on seeing something that they miss what is right in front of them. My friend begins to tell them how they can just start serving water to the people who play there each week or providing towel or something. So the one guy says, “Well, our main focus is evangelism…” I laugh as I write this. Laugh out of humor, frustration, and a deep feeling of, “Oh no!” You see, they think that being an evangelist focused church means that serving people water is in no way what they want to do, evangelism… How sad, because they have this idea evangelism is an event or task of telling an avid listener about Jesus specifically. My friend, who is much kinder than me and more likely to think about what he says before he says it, does exactly that, thinks before he speaks, and then tells them that serving the thousands of people on their church property each week is a form of evangelism. So if you’re an evangelist you are not a servant?

What I see in thoughts like this is the separation or categorizing of the Christian life into neat little boxes. I think we’ve over complicated this whole thing, we’ve created too much separation in this life we were called to live. Jesus gave the disciples one mission before He ascended into Heaven.
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 (Matthew 28:18-20, NIV)."
“The Great Commission” only calls us to make disciples of all nations, baptize them into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything He commanded them. The way this looks should and could look different for a lot of people. God has placed us in all very different communities, with different past experiences, and different personalities. He is calling us to live out the great commission within our own context. So we are all called to be evangelist, missionaries, involved in ministry, etc. These are all just terms we have unfortunately accepted and used as a separation of a lifestyle into many different tasks. Paul tackles this issue in 1 Corinthians, take a look at chapter 12. The issue is not what your gift is or what you are called to, it is knowing that it is only given or you are only called for one common good, the furthering of His kingdom, the redemption He wants to bring about through us with the Spirit. Interesting to see modern day examples of specific problems going on in an ancient Middle East community of people following Jesus. Examine yourself, do you separate yourself into something and neglect every thing else? May you understand that we are all given gifts and have callings for the common good. May you use whatever it is God has given you or whatever it is God has called you to and do it with excellence and understand this gives you no warrant to overlook other things. Let us be a body, let us move, let us work together, the world needs Him, we are His body, may we all be willing to work together towards this common goal, this common good.

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