Change Your World

When we hear the statement ‘change your world’ most of us, if we are Christian leaders, think about what we call evangelism. If we could just get people to change from unbeliever to believer, from faithless to faith-filled, from far-from-God to child-of-God, from heathen to Christian, it would change our world. However, this is NOT the angle I want to challenge myself with this week.

For two millennia now the words of Jesus’ instruction have hung in the expanse of human life for his followers, “Be in the world, but not of it.”  That statement has been interpreted six ways to Sunday, but whatever the interpretation we are at a time in history that much more suggests we are ”of the world but not in it.”

Sociologists and researchers such as George Barna tell us that the lifestyle of the world is pretty consistent with the lifestyle of those who claim the name of Christ.  Not only that, but less than 15% of all church attenders (less for those who claim to be Christian) share their faith and live redemptive lifestyles.  When it comes to the clergy the numbers are frighteningly similar. Church leaders, such as ministers and pastors, are much too busy to be in normal, everyday, embedded-in-the-world relationships with sinners and the like.

So, our dilemma is this…

  • We are like the world but we are not really relating to it very well.
  • We are not distinguished as different for a purpose as much as different because we are satnd-offish.
  • Our world is dying around us in hellacious ways and we are too busy to care.
  • We equate success and effectiveness, as leaders, by our Sunday activity instead of our weekly lifestyle choices.
  • Followers of Jesus do not have leaders who truly ‘show’ the way but rather are great at teaching it.
  • We devolve into keeping the church going instead of expanding the Kingdom by living the mandate of our leader.

So, my challenge (and I hope, yours) is to change my world.

  • Develop relationships, as Jesus did, that are intentionally redemptive. That means it has to be outside the church world.
  • Commit personally to live a distinctive lifestyle that says something about your values. Don’t choose to live as well as you can economically, but live at 80%, or less, just because you can and you can use your extra resources as redemptive tools.
  • Make Monday through Saturday more important than Sunday. (As Andy Stanley says, “Cheat the Church.”)
  • Create a discernable and visible way of life that others can reproduce in redemptive manner.
  • Simplify your worship experiences into encounters between our soul and God with the least amount of hyperbole possible.
  • Finally, get out of the world you’ve created and enter the one around you, it is God’s.

Monday

Mondays are an interesting lot. One of seven evenly measured days throughout the week, each having their own personality. But Monday is the cousin of the other six that sits alone at the family reunion, doesn’t get a card on their birthday, never gets asked to dance at a soiree and, try as it may, just never gets respect.

Today is Monday.  Humans, around the globe are begrudgingly accommodating Monday’s presence while anticipating Tuesday. After Tuesday is Wednesday, which has been given the nickname ‘Hump Day.’  When you are given a nickname, you are accepted and liked. Then, Thursday is a day of high production and part of the collection of days at the end of a work week that, in light of the proximity to Friday, is affectionately welcomed. After that, Friday, the day of Divine Gratitude. Friday even has a slogan – ‘Thank God it’s Friday!’- attached to it. Nobody doesn’t like Friday. Followed by the precious two-day collection misnamed the weekend because it also contains the week’s beginning, but who cares? Saturday is your personal day to do ‘me’ stuff, whether it is house chores, lawn maintenance, shopping, playing, partying and hanging with chill friends in or out of the neighborhood. Sunday is the traditional day of worship that has turned more extended relaxation period than anything else. Then, here it comes again, Monday.

Monday is just on the outside looking in. Have you ever felt like Monday? Do you feel like Monday now? That somehow you are just like everybody else but yet you feel unlike anyone?  In some respects being unique is great, but this does not feel great.

One time, early in Jesus’ ministry, a religious leader named Nicodemus came to Jesus under the cloak of evening darkness to inquire about Jesus face-to-face.  He first said, “I recognize you are looking-inon the inside with God because if you weren’t the miracles you do would be impossible.”  Jesus read between the lines and, I believe, heard a Monday talking.  Allow me to paraphrase what Nicodemus was saying and what Jesus was hearing. “I’m like you, godly and lawful, but unlike you I do not get what is going on with you. It must be God working with you but if it is why are we not getting the vibe and walking in step with you?” Nicodemus was feeling like an outsider and he did not like it. It was uncomfortable. When it came to Jesus and the Kingdom life that seemed to be teeming around him, Nicodemus felt like he and his partners had suddenly moved from Saturday to Monday. From being the coolest ‘insider’ and having everything ‘godly’ emanate from their center to being on the outside and seeing the center of the universe become the center of what was happening in their culture.

But Jesus was not about anyone being an outsider. He wanted everyone, sinner and saint, to come inside and he said as much. “Nic, to even see inside, follow this simple reality…be born again.”  What? Born again? Nicodemus was confused. “How do I do that?” I am sure he considered a Benjamin Button scenario but Jesus continued. “Nic, you’ve already had a natural birth when water broke and you emerged into the world. This new birth is of the spirit. You must have both to enter, be an insider, in this domain of godliness.”

And, for all of us that feel as if we are a Monday in a world of Friday and Saturdays, take the challenge to become an insider that is never deported. Be born again.  If that concept is a mystery, write me, I will try to be a helper.  Just know, none of us have to be outsiders. Come on in.