Monday, June 13, 2016
There is a darkness that hides in the beautiful corners of our world. This is a darkness that well-meaning people pretend is not there in the name of moral innocence. It is easier to turn the other way and focus on what we can understand.
We live in a fallen world. We live in a world where women and children are sold as a commodity and traded like livestock. We live in a world where the dark underbelly has risen to become the driving force of our nation. It walks among us disguised in suits and ties and rests in our very own pews. We live in a world that attends church on Sunday morning while consuming women and children, in the evening, through their very own computer screens. We live in a world where the innocence of the marriage bed is corrupted by the insatiable desires of men and women who are drowning in the darkness as it threatens to take over. Our world is lost and searching and reaching out for anything and everything to fill the emptiness.
Until recent years, I was one of those people that buried my head and ignored the evidence around me that the darkness is lurking, waiting to devour. I would have said that people are inherently good and that the horror stories you hear of human trafficking only happen in other places, more "pagan" places. Until recent years, I would have said that these tragedies could never happen here, where I live. But I have learned that where people are, wickedness lives and thrives regardless of race, socio-economic status, education or appearance. I have learned that, as much as I'd like to think/hope that we live in a good and decent world, that is just not true. We live in a world that needs rescuing, that needs a hero. And as I have come to this realization, I have started to examine the church's place in all of this darkness. I have started to contemplate, as a Jesus follower, what is my place. Do I hide to protect myself from the darkness? Do I send money so I can help, but not get my hands dirty? Do I step in and have relationships with people sitting right in the very middle of the darkness? What does mission look like?
Mission is a word that, I feel, is commonly misunderstood and over-complicated. Mission is more than a trip once a year to a far off country or the Christmas project of gathering and collecting for those in need. While these things are good and serve a purpose, to live on mission has to be the sum of more than these acts. I firmly believe that as Jesus followers, we are called to love others. I also believe, that most of the time, the church does a poor job of this in an effort to protect her own. Throughout my life, I have seen a lot of mission trips and mission projects and mission drives. At the end of the day, these efforts were more for the benefit of the church goers than the people in need. There seems to be this desire to check the mission box off of the list of things to do without ever really getting your hands dirty.
The more I know Jesus, the more I learn about Him, the more I believe his hands stayed dirty. I believe Jesus didn't have a checklist. I believe He just lived and as a part of His life, He loved people, all people. This has laid conviction on my heart that mission is more than a trip or a project. It is in the day-to-day decisions. Mission is letting people in your lives and around your dinner table. Mission is being willing to step into their lives even when it makes us uncomfortable. Mission is seeing people as more than the sum of their circumstances and decisions they've made. Living on mission means being willing to leave your comfort zone behind. It means relying on the Holy Spirit to guide you through the darkness. It means being willing to get dirty sometimes in and effort to show the love of Jesus to people.
Where do the gifts and talents that God has given you intersect with the need that is all around you? That is where you dive in, bringing your family right along with you. Be a family on mission. Understand that mission is just inviting people in your life. You don't have to start a non-profit or spend weeks at a time away from your family. You just have to love people. You just have to be willing to get your hands dirty.