POSTED ON MARCH 7, 2012:
The Scattered Church
Shining the light of faith at all times
Hide it under a bushel, no!
I'm going to let it shine
Hide it under a bushel Oh no!
I'm going to let it shine
Let it shine, let is shine, let it shine
When I sang this song as a kid, I always wondered what a bushel was. I knew that I wasn't supposed to hide my little light under it. To be honest, I'm not real sure I understood what my "light" was.
As an adult, I now understand. And though I'm not supposed to conceal my faith in any area of life, I'm afraid I've veiled it on too many occasions to count.
At the core of the problem inside of me is that I want a faith I can compartmentalize. A proverbial "switch on and off" belief in Jesus.
This desire, sadly, has morphed into reality for many others as well. When it's convenient for us, we turn our "light" on. When it's not, we turn it off. We hide our faith under a bushel. In John 17 of the sacred scriptures, we find the God-man, Jesus, hours before his death praying to his heavenly Father. Specifically, he is praying for his disciples. And in his concern for his friends, we get a window into his heart for all of God's children. As Jesus goes to die, we're on his mind as well.
In this high priestly prayer, Jesus prays many interesting things but I want to highlight one of them. In verse 18 of John 17, Jesus is sending us somewhere. Where? The world.
I've heard it said that telling someone to avoid culture is like telling a fish not to swim in the sea. The ocean is just where the fish swims. The world is where we reside. We can't separate ourselves from it if we tried.
When Jesus asks his Father to send his people in the world, he understood that it is in the crucible of culture where his mission is enacted. The where of mission is obvious. It is the what of mission that causes us to obscure our witness.
What was Jesus sent into the world to do? To seek and save the lost. What Jesus is showing us here is that we are being sent into the world to make his appeal for spiritual reconciliation to be known through him. It's not something we schedule in. Mission is not addition.
Jesus is defining for us what we are to be and do in this world. We are sent by Him. The rhythm of sentness is all wrapped up in his mission.
But this presupposes that we let Jesus send us into the world. Some of us are scared to go to far in the world b/c we'll get the sin "disease." Some of us have been too far into the world in our pasts and it scares us to go back. Some of us are too far into the world right now and we need to repent and believe in Jesus again for what we are finding our righteousness in.
Regardless of where we are on that spectrum, how else is this mission going to be accomplished unless we are in the world, scattered to incarnate the gospel where we live, where we work, where we play, and where we rest? The plan that God has chosen is you and I.
If you look at the gospels, particularly in the gospel of John, Jesus refers to His Heavenly Father over and over with these words: "Him who sent me." Jesus' own identity and the way He viewed His Father was that God sent him to do this work." And then He says to you and me, "So I also send you."
Our identity comes from the relationship that we have with Jesus and the calling that He has given to us. This sentness infects all that we do when we scatter. We are missionaries and the mission field starts the minute we walk away from gathering around Jesus with the people of God on Sunday mornings. Missionaries just don't go overseas, they go downtown or over to Cherry Street or down to Brookside or to Bixby or Owasso or Jenks. They bring the gospel to bear in their work, in their neighborhood, and in their play places.
Missionaries are people that love Jesus and are sent wherever God has them or sends them. In Jesus' priestly prayer, he is commissioning us for his work in the world.
The Father sends the Son. The Son accomplishes his Work. Then, in the book of Acts, the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, then sends the church from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth, all the way to Tulsa.
The good news has come to us, and it's come through us, and it's needing to get out to others.
So what is keeping us from letting our light shine? We love ourselves and our stuff too much. We love our comfort, safety, security and control too much. To be honest, we don't want all of life to be about Jesus -- we want our time to be our time and when we want to be religious, we turn the light switch on.
Jesus showed us a different way. Philippians 2:4-5 illustrates that Jesus recognized his position -- he was under the authority of his heavenly Father. He humbled himself according to the will of the Father, leaving the perfect community of the Trinity and incarnated the gospel in the humble position of a human.
Why? To live the life we couldn't live in perfect obedience to the Father and die the death that we deserved to bring us back into shalom with God.
So now, we recognize our position too. We are not our savior, we are sinners in desperate need of the Savior. We become "others--focused" -- taking the role of servant. We empty ourselves of your self-righteousness, pride, selfishness and apathy. This all allows us to then incarnate the gospel -- the story of Jesus' obedience even unto death -- in our spheres when we scatter.
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