Are you growing weary of the war yet? “What war?” you ask... The one our enemy, the devil, has drawn you into. The war you have come to believe is holy because it protects the unborn... or offers justice to the oppressed... or protects your personal & religious freedom... or offers help... or keeps your taxes low. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s the war you see raging every time you pick up your phone or turn on the TV; the one that pits the left and right against one another, makes black and white and “different” enemies and forces the rich and poor to work against one another. It the one that gets hotter during election years but never really ends. And during a global pandemic its the war that forces you to choose between money & safety. Are you weary of it yet?
Christian friend, this war is not ours. Earth bound battles have always raged and will continue on... The version we’re experiencing right now is especially hot. But you need to know, this war is not ours. I know it feels like it is because there are issues being debated and fought over that Christians on both sides of the political divide value. And there are even injustices and truths that believers aught to stand for in the public square. But still, what is happening around us... its not our war. What is going on out there is not Christian or a part of the work of God’s Kingdom. As a matter of fact.. our enemy the devil is using the war around us is to distract us from what matters most.
We are a part of a different Kingdom and God has called us into something that is far more significant than any battle that we see being waged on our little screens.
I want to invite you to consider something for a few minutes. Consider the world Jesus sent the 72 followers and disciples into back in Luke 10. The text says:
“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.”
Politics and social issues were on fire in that day. God’s people were under the oppressive rule of Rome. People were being killed and imprisoned left and right. Nobody was focused on JESUS. They were focused on political issues and injustices. And Christ said, I’m coming.. Go ahead of me. When you go.. you’ll be like lambs in the midst of wolves.
Yeah. That’s exactly how I feel about living in the world today. And what instructions did Jesus give?
—Don’t take a bunch of stuff with you to rely on.. rely on me.
—Look for people who seek or live for peace.
—Build into those people. Eat what they provide. Don’t go house to house, person to person.
—Tell them that “The Kingdom of God has come to say with them.”
—If nobody is picking up what you are laying down.. move on!
This is our mission... our war if you will. To go into the world proclaiming the kingdom of Christ and making disciples. So we must ask ourselves.. will we continue to fight earth bound battles or join Jesus in his kingdom mission?
We can only do one of two things in relationship to earth bound battles: double down or take a step back. I want to invite you to take a step back! “But evil might prevail!” Calm down, calm down. No matter what you feel right now the world is not coming to an end. It will one day... but not today. Every nation tribe & tongue must be accounted for first.. and we’re not close.
So why step back? Not because you need rest so you can then reengage. Rather so that you can take the time to seek the Lord, grow to see more clearly and to repent. I’ll say it again, the war that is ongoing is not our war. And the aim of the war is not our aim. It’s a bunch of earth bound skirmishes that are distracting you, Christian friend, from what actually matters.
That is not to say that there are not important matters being discussed in the world, things that Christians should care about. But THE BIGGEST PROBLEM IN OUR NATION is the pandemic or racial injustices or the election. Instead the BIG problem lies within the doors of the Church. In human hearts that claim Christ as king. We wear him like a hat rather than worship him as the Christ.
Friend, THERE IS ANOTHER WAY! It’s the way of God’s Kingdom, the way of Jesus.
After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
I love this section of scripture! This story was also recorded in two other gospels: Matthew and Mark. The only significant difference in the accounts is the use of the name "Matthew" (great name by the way...) rather than "Levi" (same person).
This story is astounding! Jesus calls Matthew, the tax collector and all together bad dude, to give up everything and follow him. So he did! And where did they go first? Straight to Matthews house to eat and drink with his tax collector and sinner friends!
Rather than leading Matthew away from his sinful friends Jesus lead him right back to the unredeemed for a party. Then enter the religious leaders... "Jesus, Why do you eat with these sinners?" Jesus then shows his intent in partying with the sinner... "I did not come for the righteous but the sinner... I came to call them to repentance!"
Part of Jesus' mission strategy was to call people to follow him and to lead those people back to their neighborhoods, and friends to EAT & DRINK with them... all for the sake of their redemption!
Now that is a missional strategy our church can adopt! Church family, let's be busy continually calling people to follow Christ, lets step into the lives of those who need Christ by sharing meals with them... in our homes and in theirs. A shared meal is common and level ground. Sharing a meal says: "you matter to me." A shared meal offers opportunity for the community of faith to be a part of the broader community for the sake of their salvation. It gives opportunity for relationship, grace giving, prayer, care and more...
What better time of the year to share a meal and the love of Christ with friends, neighbors, coworkers and family than the coming holiday season. Church family, let's be busy the next few months intentionally sharing our table with friends, family, neighbors and co-workers for the sake of their salvation.
Many in our city scoff at the idea that a Christian would celebrate Mardi Gras. We think that is a screwed perspective on the missionary life of the believer. If every Christ-follower is truly called to live the missionary life then we must go where the people go, serve where the people are, make friends at the events people attend.
At our church we love and enjoy the tradition of celebration in our city! Everyone in our city knows that the vast majority of the Mardi Gras festivities can be enjoyed with family, friends, kids and with the Church! So grab your kids, meetup with other church friends and get in on the celebration... catch beads, scream "throw me somethin mister!," laugh, eat, drink and do so in a way that shows you belong to Jesus.
Be intentional during this time. We want to encourage our church to go to parades together, to enjoy our city together and to invite friends, co-workers, classmates, neighbors and family to come along for the fun. What a great time to build new friendships, to introduce people you know to others in the church and to invite people to worship with us or join you at your next small group meeting or fellowship. Invite everybody, including your new friends, back to your house afterward to hang out, for a cookout or just go out to eat!
Church, lets celebrate Mardi Gras together and redeem the experience as we work to show the joy of Jesus and connect with people who need Christ in this city we love so much.