“We went to this really great lunch presentation! You have to check out this book!”
Rachel and Caroline, the North Cross Children’s Ministry and Youth Ministry directors, were absolutely giddy when they found the books Red Letter Challenge. Their joy and excitement was literally contagious. I remember looking at it and thinking, “That looks like something that is really solid and could have a massive impact on the discipleship of a church.”
I lead with that today, because there is a paragraph on Day 26 in the Red Letter Challenge, that not only I have been stuck on, but others I have talked with in groups.
I’ve seen a lot of Christians who sine their lights really bright in places that are already well lit. In other words, I’ve seen a lot of people who believe in Jesus, do good works, and say all the right things about God in a place where there are already many other Christians. It’s easy to shine your light and serve in church or in a Christian small group; it’s very hard to shine your light in dark places or places where there are no Christians or where your viewpoints and opinions are not the majority. God calls us to shine our light not around other Christians, but especially in places where there is darkness. [p160]
Darkness is a tricky thing.
Think of all the forms it comes in…it is super sneaky, all-consuming, long-lasting, and can over take anything.
But light. Oh, friends, light is special. It only takes a pinprick of light to impact darkness. The smallest, dimmest light will crack that tricky darkness.
But here is the even trickier thing…when you are comfortable in the light, how willing are you to be that pinprick?
That takes courage. It takes calling. But friends, it IS purpose. God did not create us to quarantine ourselves with only other followers of Jesus. He create us to reflect him. And be his ambassador and tell his stories. To believe and have faith that God is truth and light.
One of the things that drives me crazy in Christian ministry is when we celebrate bringing in a new person from a different church. Don’t get me wrong, I want people to be where they are growing as a disciple and be where that will happen in the most transformative way. But friends, we were not asked to go to the church down the street and make disciples. That is called ‘fishing’ in the blue water, and friends the blue water is so, so small. The red water is gargantuan, and we are supposed to be ‘fishing’ there. We are told to go to the people outside of the church.
For me this is two-fold, and I want to be sure I am clear. The discipleship of the church, in general, is not what it should be, so we must hold those that say they follow Jesus responsible to being more like Jesus. If you are in any of the spaces you hear me use my voice, you will hear me say, ‘That is a discipleship issue.’ Meaning, if someone is doing their best to be more and more and more like Jesus [insert behavior or opinion or belief here] they would actually look more and more like Jesus.
The other piece is that while Jesus spoke in synagogues and tried to reason with the Jewish people, his ministry was outside the synagogue.
His ministry was in the streets as he was going down the road.
His ministry was around tables while sharing meals.
His ministry was in the homes of outcasts.
It was in Samaria where everyone was uncomfortable going because everyone there was ‘unclean.’
His ministry was still happening while he was hanging on the cross and the criminal asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus came into his Kingdom.
His ministry was not constrained to a building, and while he intentionally taught and spent time with his disciples, he then instructed them to go out from there. Jesus came for everyone. No one left out. Literally everyone.
Jesus is light that conquers the darkness, and he empowers his believers to do the same.