Fear, Candy Wrappers & The Gospel
Finishing Simplify by Bill Hybels has left me processing many things, and among them are fears in my life. Recently, I have found myself in fear of getting drug into a culture of churchiness. A world where we forget that people matter. A world where we believe Sunday morning strategies like sitting in classes, listening to excellent worship songs, and wearing skinny jeans on a stage is what matters most. Where we believe the myth that we can create great programming and easy step processes that will lead people to being disciples. I am so often reminded of a quote I’ve heard in many student ministry circles over the years. “Programs don’t disciple people, people disciple people,” and I fear if we aren’t careful, our strategies with good intentions can easily turn into programs. Because honestly, programs are easy. They are manageable. They can be evaluated by success and failure. People are messy. They take time, patience, endurance, and more times than not, there is a good chance you may never see the fruit of the time you have invested. It’s possible you invest years of time in a person who ultimately decides they aren’t much interested in Jesus being the Lord of their life. They’re okay with him just being a homeboy they wear on a Tshirt. But Jesus doesn’t call us to do the changing. He calls us out to live life with people the way he did. He calls us to be faithful.
This morning I walked into my office space (an ikea couch and side table) at One Life, where I am grateful and humbled to be compensated to wake up in the mornings thinking about how I can best serve and resource those who are giving their lives away to the next generation. As I sat down my stuff, I noticed 3 jolly rancher sucker wrappers left on the table beside me. It was weird, but I found a sense of joy in picking up what some might see as trash this morning. It represented more than trash but potential sweat and blood in people’s lives. It represented some of our kids hanging out as their parents were taking time away from home to meet with kids! Teams or small groups. It represented mischievous middle schoolers who were sitting with their small group leader after group while their parents were held up at work causing them to be 20 minutes late (it happens). It represented a young couple who was nervously awaiting a counseling session that might bring life and hope back into their marriage. My eyes this morning saw something that represented the people who walk through our doors, but also the people who we are doing life with who may never walk through the doors of our church. The church in the purest and rawest for is about people loving people. Just as Peter, James, and John would sit with Jesus eating, praying and laughing together, as they talked about all the moments that we get to read about 2000 years later. It’s about Investment. Relationships. They matter. A lot. It’s the way Jesus intended for us to reach the world. An old friend in my life once encouraged me with words that have been ingrained in my mind for years. “I never want people to feel like they are a means to an end.” I have been in organizations where I felt I was nothing more than a puppet meeting the needs of those in charge to make them look like they were doing their job really well. It’s hurtful. You feel abused, and underappreciated. I never want people in our circles to feel like they are simply a means to an end of us getting our jobs done. I want them to feel empowered to be with those who they are pouring their blood, sweat, and tears into. Because making disciples is hard. People are messy. Picking up candy wrappers… now that I can do.