Josh spoke in church yesterday and challenged us with his unique and totally real perspective on how we need to be incarnational, intentionally so, as we seek to follow Jesus into our neighbourhood.
I appreciated his exuberance and enthusiasm. This is, in fact, what he actually is doing. He is moving to Melbourne to intentionally be involved in the art scene, to serve those on the streets, to be part of a fringe community, to live with them, share with them and be Jesus to them. His journey to this point is inspiring and shows real evidence that God is moving in his life.
After telling his story, he shared a few things about what he has learned about life and serving others (and a lot of other things). In his words, “One of the great things about having a low IQ is that I can learn things from almost anyone.”
But what he said about ‘throwing Jesus bombs’ and then running back into the safety of our Christian community struck me as being so real and true about how many choose to ‘do witnessing.’ This has become the normal way of doing things, the modus operandi of ministry.
I picked up an American magazine this morning and was leafing through it (if you can call turning on-screen pages ‘leafing) when I came across this comment at the end of an article entitled, ‘Compassion for the Lost:’
‘Let’s choose to show compassion toward lost souls. Let’s equip ourselves with gospel tracts, a mindset of unselfish service to others, and let’s seek to share Christ with someone today.’
‘Equip ourselves with gospel tracts’? Really? Do you really think this is the best way to ‘share Christ’?
Is unselfish service simply an add-on to the real intention of deploying a Jesus bomb? Is that act of kindness a ‘tool’ to get an opportunity to hand out a gospel tract? Is that Christmas hamper given to that needy family purely an effort to get a ‘foot in the door’?
I grew up with this method of ministry and, honestly, I cannot remember seeing one person who came to faith through such a method. (What I do remember is a lot of angry people shouting abuse and throwing our ‘good news’ on the ground–but that was because they were under the power of Satan and didn’t understand that Jesus died to set them free from the chains of sin that so obviously were binding them. How else would you explain their rejection of our gospel leaflets? There was always the consolation that we would never know until we get to heaven what happened to the ‘seeds of faith’ that were ‘planted in the hearts’ of all those ‘lost souls’ who received our literature.)
Again, going back to Josh’s message for us, ‘We are called to be witnesses, not “do witnessing.”‘
Being is something that we are, not something we do. It is a lifestyle, as natural as breathing. It flows from us as much as our own personality and character flow. Being is who we are.
I am not a bombardier. Using the good news as a ‘tool’ has never been who I am. I don’t buy into the ‘bait and switch’ or the agenda-driven-kindness.
I know I’m not the only one.
To me there is something honestly compelling about seeing a person who lives like Jesus, who loves like Jesus, who serves like Jesus. Encouraging. Inspiring. Inviting. Welcoming. Healing. Accepting.
The only bombs would be grace bombs. The only agenda, love. The only catch–well, there is no catch! None at all. It’s fully unconditional, unassuming, no big expectations. Just being.
Thanks for reminding us of this, Josh. May grace and peace be with you in every step of your journey into your new neighbourhood.