At High Point, if you’ve been listening, you’ve been hearing that we need to be engaged in living a life that “goes to dark places,” that gets out and uses the opportunities that God is giving us to make a difference with the Gospel.
But, just as important as hearing the positive message is facing the negative one: Why don’t I?
For most of us, getting out there isn’t news. This Sunday, Manohar James told a story about a mother coming to Gandhi and asking him to tell her son not to eat so much candy. He told her to come back in a week only to simply tell the kid not to eat candy when the week had passed. The mother asked, “Then why send me away for a week?” and his reply was something like, “Because last week I was eating candy.”
That’s actually a lesson on integrity that Alexi and I have been struggling through for several years. We asked ourselves the question: “If we don’t count my time working at church as ministry, in what way are we living the life I tell people they can and should live in Christ?” Am I investing in people and inviting them to be engaged and equipped with the gospel? Is my home a sanctuary where Jesus is king, where people can see what it means for a place to be ruled by Jesus? Do I use my leisure or spending money to be part of God’s mission? How does this affect our kids? Do we serve anyone? Or are we just preaching a lifestyle we are exempt from because I’m a preacher?
That is where most of our personal ministry comes from. We’ve had three young ministry leaders live in our house for 8 months to a year at a time. We just spent money to finish our basement so we can be more hospitable to such young leaders. We’ve had weekly ‘intern nights’ where 10-15 20-somethings come to dinner and talk about all kinds of things. I’ve been working more and more to use my hobbies in hunting, gardening, and other things to include people into our lives who aren’t churched.
We’ve noticed that the biggest obstacle is to do this with four kids. All I’ll say now is that it IS hard, but it is also doable. My kids loved intern night. You can’t get as much ‘done’ but we did it in a way that my kids liked and that our guests enjoyed. All I really had to do was tell the 20-somethings that when my kids hated intern night, it would have to be over. I asked them to make it fun for my kids, and they did.
We use the garden as a counseling place, and the kids love harvesting and giving away the produce. The fertility and inter-generationality of our home is part of the charm, it’s part of what makes it seem like a tiny Christ-ruled kingdom. There is something different about a patio where we harvest lettuce for the salad in a shared meal and tend a garden while talking about our own humanity and the God who made us.
I will be talking more about living to try to serve Jesus in a real ‘normal’ suburban life. Almost all of us have to live sent exactly where we are. But I want to live it out with my family enough to know it’s real in us, hopefully not so we can be self-righteous about it, but so that we can be both bold and compassionate at the same time.