Friday, February 13, 2009

Jesus said, "Go!"

I am not a professional mountain climber, and I do not scale cliffs in my pastime, but I'm wise enough to know this: when you're climbing, you don't stay too long in one place.

Skilled climbers race up the rock face. They pause from time to time, but only to test the firmness of their stance and to evaluate their next move. Remaining stationary is rarely a good option, because it is then that fatigue sets in and the force of gravity begins to exert its crushing weight.

Churches have a tendency to remain stationary, often for years at a time. Complacency is usually the culprit. There is a certain satisfaction with the status quo. We like to be comfortable. We like to be in a routine where everything is familiar.

The church that is stationary is a congregation that is not driven to preach the Gospel beyond rick walls and manicured lawns. The church that is stationary is comfortable with those present and accounted for, yet relatively unconcerned about those who are not. A comfortable church revels in the thought of a "job well done," while a world of work is left undone. A comfortable church spends untold sums on the comforts of modern society, while issues of eternal consequence receive what little remains.

"Go." Jesus used the word a lot. "Go and sin no more." "Go and do likewise." "Go and make disciples." How can one go and remain stationary at the same time? Aren't the two behaviors at odds with each other?

Have we lost our way? When did the comforts of this world become more important than seeking and saving the lost?

What were the instructions Jesus gave to the twelve as he sent them out into the world? He said, "Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunic. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them" (Luke 9.3-5).

I know that some attention needs to be give to the physical needs of a congregation. Buildings require upkeep. But, what's more important to us: padded pews or the soul of one who has never heard the name of Jesus because no missionary has ever visited his village?

Jesus said, "Go!" Are we scaling the cliff, moving upward with all of the gusto we can give, or are we standing still, comfortable, complacent, stationary?