People Are the Mission: Sneak Preview (ch. 3)
The countdown is on to the launch day of People Are The Mission, coming Tuesday, March 6. Each Monday until the release date I’m sharing brief excerpts from the book. I’d love to hear your feedback!
Excerpt from chapter three, When Hospitality Meets Hostility.
If there is a black eye on the face of the modern-day church, it may be that we regularly fail to display the kindness of Jesus. In our attempts to keep ourselves separated from the sins of the world, we’ve forgotten that we’re called to go to the souls of the world. We conveniently remember John 17:16 where Jesus said that his followers “are not of the world,” but we quickly forget verse 18: “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”
There’s a balance in being in the world versus of the world versus out of the world. We often do exactly what Jesus prayed we wouldn’t do. We’re either too much assimilated to the world or too much afraid or disdainful of the world. In the High Priestly Prayer of John 17, Jesus didn’t say “in” the world (that’s too passive for the believer) or “out of” the world (that’s too overreactive of the believer). He said “into” the world.
What does it mean to be into? It means that we are deeply engaged with people who differ radically from us in terms of beliefs. We seek after people with whom we’re in over our head, people we love, but not people who seduce us. Christians who live out of the world are afraid, and sometimes angry and bitter that their way of life is threatened. Christians who live in the world are assimilated and seduced, looking more like culture than like Christ. Christians who understand they’ve been sent into the world are deeply engaged but utterly unattracted to it.
And when people who live in the world come into our churches, our theology of into will drive how we treat them. Here’s a convicting question that I have to ask myself (maybe you can consider if it convicts you as well): Do the people Jesus loves feel loved by our church? When they show up as broken sinners, do they find grace or judgment? When we find out that the newcomer across the aisle is shacking up with his girlfriend or just got fired for embezzlement or much prefers golf over God, do we run to him or away from him? Hospitality and kindness call us into the world and invite the world into our circles.
We can get the gospel right and still get our incarnation of that gospel absolutely wrong. How can we take the gospel message and embody it in the way we treat others? Pastor Tony Evans describes this as our theology never affecting our sociology. Let’s not be a people who are known for what we’re against rather than what we’re for. The hospitality of the church can be a corrective to society’s perception of Christianity. We have an organizational opportunity to promote and highlight the graciousness of God revealed in the gospel. Church people can outmarch, outshout, outprotest, and outboycott all the opposing voices around us, but at what cost?
Taken from People Are the Mission by Danny Franks. Copyright © 2018 by Danny Franks. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.