Thursday, March 31, 2016

It's dangerous business going out your front door nowadays: Kingdom living in today's crazy world!

I love the scene in the Fellowship of The Ring when Sam hesitates to go with Frodo saying "if I take one more step, it will be the farthest I've even been from home."  Frodo encourages Sam to go saying, "remember what Bilbo always said, 'it's dangerous business going out your front door. You step onto the road and if you don't take your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to'."

Christians can be much like Sam when trying to make a decision whether to go on a mission trip, move overseas to serve God in a foreign land, or starting a ministry in a new place. And in today's world where we hear about almost every tragic event, the fear of travel can be a huge barrier to following God's calling. We in America have an aversion to taking risks. It hasn't always been that way. Our founding fathers risked much to make America the country it is. But just mention to someone you are going to Africa or to Europe to serve on mission and see the bewildering looks on their faces. "Are you serious? Why would you take a risk like that?"

I recently had a conversation with a friend who shared that she had been struggling with a decision that she believes is a calling from God to serve him in a specific way. Her idea for ministry would provide hospice patients a unique peaceful and spiritual rest during their last days on earth. The problem she explained was that her dream would require her to quit her well-paying job and take a big risk by starting a non-profit ministry. Many of her friends and family thought she was being foolish to do so.  Her dream required her to risk, sacrifice material things and security. She asked herself, am I being foolish or am I being faithful to God's call? 

Sometimes when I try to determine God's direction for me, taking a risk to serve others can often seem as being irrational, unsafe or imprudent. So many Christians pass up opportunities because they fear losing material things, security and often friends. Yet, when we look at just about any faithful person in the Bible, we see how they risked much and gave up much to follow God's calling. Think about what Abraham, Noah, and Moses were asked to do. From the outside what God was calling them to do seemed like folly. For them and the disciples in the New Testament, Kingdom living meant leaving the security of the present and stepping in with both feet not sure of where they would be swept off to, but knowing that God was with them.  

Our consumer culture demands the opposite of Kingdom living. It drives us to mostly play it safe, and when we are encouraged to risk, it is usually for the sake of possessions, power or profit. We are told to live up to our potential but as my pastor proclaimed one Sunday, "Kingdom living is not living up to our potential, it is pursuing our calling!" That calling often requires us to put aside comfort, safety, material security and the life we currently live, even the world's idea of sanity for something much more grand, much more fulfilling. 

Yet, when we are faced with a choice to join in God's adventure, we are much like Bilbo Baggins. We go to church and live our daily life. We don't like unexpected visitors and unanticipated surprises that break our routine. But as it happens so often, as it did to Bilbo Baggins, opportunity knocks at our door, out of the blue or as we are are minding our own business, God sends an opportunity our way to join Him in an adventure.  And we get to choose. 

Take it from someone that has been all over the world. When you say "yes" to God and enter His adventure, you'll go places that will take your breath away and serve along side of the most unusual cast of characters. I've experienced this all over the world, working alongside Muslim men to build a playground at a school in Morocco to worshiping God with inmates inside a prison in South Africa. 

So if you are contemplating going oversees on a mission trip, don't listen to the world, friends and acquaintances who will try to talk you out of going. You'll hear all kinds of reasons for not going. It's unsafe. It's too much money which could better be spent helping people here.  You are being irresponsible to your family.  Some of the arguments may sound logical. But often your friends won't understand because they view life from a worldly perspective, not from a Kingdom mindset. Just say "yes" to God.  I promise you won't be the same when you return!

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