As I am reading through Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch’s book, The Shaping of Things to Come, I’m struck by one idea. This book is a bit academic and I actually like that! Also, the theory and theology isn’t new. I think what is really helpful is taking that biblical theology of what it means to follow Jesus and applying it to the current post-modern context, giving it a cohesive language that we can all use in discussing these ideas, dealing with leadership structures and missiology (especially contextualism–I love it when missiology is brought to the masses!). This is all good stuff. But within that context, something that has been bothering me my whole life lit up for me.

We are all called to share the good news of the gospel, but some are more gifted at it than others. I’m not talking about Billy Graham or anything; just ordinary regular people. I’m fairly decent at making and keeping friends. I enjoy people. I delight in relating with people. But I have never “closed” the deal in sharing the gospel. I know that isn’t a great choice of words, “closed”, but I don’t mean it in a small sense. I don’t mean someone saying the “sinner” prayer and going on their merry way. I mean the light of recognition going off in someone when they realize that the gospel story is true and that they must join in continuing that story. They are compelled by the love of God for them so that they desire to know God and partake in the redemption of the whole cosmos!

I’ve never had that happen to me.

And I’ve been semi-ok with that.

But now, I have completely new vision. Now I know what has been missing in my story of sharing the good news of Jesus. I need to know who the closers are in my circles! Once relationships are formed we include the closers into the mix and let them do there work. As I’m writing this, I’m regretting my choice of the word closer, because I think people will read that and think of marketing or the show with Kyra Sedgewick! It sounds crass and I don’t mean it that way. I mean it in a wonderful way. Maybe I should call them Openers! They open the door to the kingdom like no one else can. Yes that is better. Alan Hirsh just calls them evangelists–like the Bible does. Maybe I shouldn’t mess with a good thing.

So by evangelists I’m not talking about people who PUSH and DON’T LISTEN. We all need to listen and understand and dialog and respect people! These are people who are sensitive, loving, empathetic, non-pushy and that can share the story of God with us in such a way that others want to join in living life with Jesus.

Think of it: you live in community and form relationships. You then connect those in your community that are pre-believers with the Openers (!) and watch the magic happen! I love it. No pressure. God does the work using those God has gifted.

This is the other idea that really stood out for me from the book: Person of Peace article.  More comments later (maybe).

Advertisements

Platforms are not where ministry happens.

Ministry happens in the neighborhood;

With life rubbing up against life,

With the sharing of the miseo dei,

participating in Christ,

seeing the imago dei in others.

You can’t phone it in.

–Michael Frost, PGF 2007 closing talk

What does this mean for us? Living as Jesus did, being incarnational as He was, “dressed in his cloak” takes on many different faces. How do we do it in our lives? Does this mean we all move to marginal areas of society? Do we abandon our comfortable, banal, middle-class, consumer driven lives?

How will you embody Jesus in your community? Imagine for a moment that you are staying in your particular corner of suburbia (or urbanhood). Imagine living your life counter-culturally with in that context. What does that look like? Do you have the courage for that? Do I? I know that I want to.  I want to start where I am and be faithful countering all the ridiculous cultural baggage that has been attached to the idea of following Jesus. I want to identify it all and burn it up.

Most of the time.

Sometimes, I’m lazy and give in the numbing ready-made society I live in. Looking around, I see my response is not the minority.

My prayer is that I will not close my eyes. I will follow Jesus in the midst of suburbia, taking the necessary risks of letting go…of the institution, of the baggage, of materialism, consumerism, of the creature comforts, of my sin of omission, of not caring for those suffering around me, of the fear of being rejected, ridiculed, ignored…

Will you join me? Can we take in God’s love for us and then live it out?