Not Rocket Science III – Mixing it Up

Part three of the simple things we can do to help us be effective missionaries in our own land…

‘Mixing it up’ is the same as being in the world, as distinct from creating our own little subcultures and then seeking to draw people in to them.

We simply can’t be involved in mission with people who are not Christians if we don’t hang around with them and if we don’t know their world. That’s just too darn obvious isn’t it. But how many Christians do you know who have virtually no meaningful relationships with people other than their Christian friends?

And you can actually be ‘in the world, but not mix with the world’. By that I mean you can work with people and never mix life with them.

They say it takes 3-5 years for a new Christian to lose contact with their old friends and be socialised into the church.

And some of us spend the rest of our lives trying to crawl back out.

This is not my idea” :

John 17:15-18 Jesus said “My prayer is not

angus thongs and perfect snogging movie

that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. {16} They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. {17} Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. {18} As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”

John finishes his gospel by saying “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Jesus says ‘go’ – lets not expect people to come to our ‘holy’ ground (that isn’t actually holy ground anyway). Jesus says ‘go’ and be with them in their places and spaces and I will be with you.

Jesus never told anyone to ‘go to church’… Neither did Paul.

The great commission says ‘go into all the world’. If it was the great invitation then maybe we could sit back and complain that people just don’t come to church like they used to – but Jesus never expected anyone to do that.

When Eugene Petersen translated John 1:14 he wrote “The word became flesh and moved into the neighbourhood”.

I love that verse – it’s the image that undergirds our own journey – the idea of the incarnation – the word becoming flesh.

When Jesus entered our world he came in person – he made contact with us. He didn’t drop a swagload of tracts with sinners prayers at the end. He was with people. He ‘did life’ with people.

This idea of being in the world means not creating our own little subculture where we can hide and try and drag people in to – which is so often what we’ve done.

This is a huge cringe!

I’m all for holiness but I’m not convinced that taking ourselves out of the loop of ordinary everyday life is any way to express that.

In creating Christian versions of ordinary activities have we saved ourselves the ‘agony’ of ever having to engage with the rest of the world? Is it any we wonder we feel isolated – and we wonder why people perceive us as exclusive – are we going to see Christian real estate developments, whole suburbs of Christians?” Would we live there?!…

When Jesus spoke of us as salt and light I doubt that he ever expected the salt to try and huddle together in the salt cellar. I doubt that he ever expected the light to do its thing in a lit room. Salt is only valuable when it is dispensed and sprinkled around. Light is only valuable when it illuminating darkness.

One contemporary writer – a guy by the name of Mark Driscoll has said

“Why do we insist that we’re the “pure people” offering a “pure culture”? Why do we insist on protecting, insulating, and inoculating ourselves against a pagan world? Why do we think we can do so in the first place? Let the world be the world and let’s just be part of it – let’s stop moaning about it and get into it.”

Fair call I reckon.

We often see Christians and non-Christians as two separate entities that should not mix except for purposes of evangelism. Its an us and them mentality. But I don’t believe that’s a biblical way of thinking. I believe Jesus intention is for the two to be so inextricably mixed that at times people will wonder who’s who.

Don’t believe me?

I say that because the ultimate insult they used to hurl at Jesus was that he was a drunkard and a glutton – a friend of tax collectors and sinners. In effect they were saying ‘ we don’t know if he’s one of them or one of us’. And if we are the yeast in the dough then I have a feeling that’s how it is supposed to be.

If our job is to be the yeast in the dough then when you consider that image its not hard to see that the yeast has a powerful impact and is different from the other ingredients, but it has its impact because it is so closely involved.

Being in the world is going to people in their places and spaces on their terms and feeling what they feel, experiencing what they experience. Its what Jesus did. ‘The word became flesh and moved into the neighbourhood.’

I just can’t imagine a Jesus who would have created a Christian subculture.

The message from Jesus is simple – get amongst it – mix it up and enjoy life with people who don’t know him!

For more mundane observations on what makes an effective missionary come back tomorrow…

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