CONTACT EQUALS CONTAMINATION?
After listening to Michael Frost (which I assume you’ve all done!) do you think he’s saying that we should actually go out to the highways and byways, live relationally, be an incarnational witness, and compel people to come into the Kingdom of God; or build an amazing church complex and compel people to come join us there? Should we employ the “build it and they will come” theory?
Think about it. Did Jesus ever set up a “special spot” where He fed the hungry and did all of His miracles, then just sit back and wait for people to come support Him? Or did He meet people on their own ground, in their homes, at the source of their pain and need, and bring them peace, healing and everlasting life? Did He even have any place to lay His head at night? No. He was “on the road,” living amongst the poor, the sick, the rejected.
It seems that only through true relationship will we ever draw the hearts, souls and minds of those who need Him. We cannot isolate ourselves and expect unbelievers to be attracted by our cool in-church cafe, video game room, professional band or counseling services. We must become vulnerable, truly vulnerable.
This means that empathy, servanthood, humility, meekness and gentleness must be the traits that mark us as followers of Jesus.
Anything less is not God’s best, and only serves to reinforce to the world that we do not truly care for them. Jesus told us to be “in the world, but not of it.” That doesn’t mean isolation. Jesus meant for us to be engaged with the lost on a daily basis, and that cannot happen if most of our time is swallowed up with all the activities we’ve come to believe make up a healthy church.
I encourage you to take a few steps back from everything you’re doing, and measure it all against the yardstick of being next to someone who doesn’t know Jesus. When you’re in your men’s group are there unbelievers there? How about at the prayer meeting? Do you hang out with any agnostics, Buddhists or even atheists? Are you afraid of being contaminated?
Do you resist getting that favorite hamburger because it’s sold at a local bar? What’s your fear? That someone will see you entering a bar and it will spoil your witness? If you don’t go in there and get to know the bartender, waitresses, regular customers and owner, how will they ever hear about Jesus?
We need to become “regulars” in places like that, so that we can relate with people and what they’re going through. How will we understand the pain someone is experiencing, trying to drown it out with alcohol at a bar, if we refuse to go into that place?
The answer is to get dirty. Down and dirty with the world is what Jesus did, and we should follow His lead. If we do, we can’t fail, because the love of God will motivate us and take us to places we never thought we’d go.
God is love. And love never fails.