When our reliance is completely on Christ and our hearts are captured by His love and our fellowship with one another is a natural (or supernatural) byproduct of the indwelling Spirit, the only true source of true fellowship, the world may also come to us, even as we still go to them.
I am cautious with so much of the rhetoric and activity in the progressive, active, evangelical Christian community with vision-plans, outreach strategies and the like to extend the Gospel all over the world.. Christ’s dominant teaching during the last evening with His closest friends was the high degree of service offered to the family. Throughout the New Testament we are continually admonished in the way that we are to regard, serve, treat each other.
Now I know we are salt and light in the world and I know that we are to offer ourselves as servants to the world, ambassadors, messengers and ministers of reconciliation to the spiritually lost and condemned, but the overwhelming biblical evidence points to our love for and service to one another being the litmus of our belonging to Christ. I wonder that we engage in incredible efforts to reach the world for Christ, offer enormous resources of relief and fight feverishly against injustice and oppression while ignoring or overlooking the health and welfare of true fellowship and mercy and healing within the ranks of the household of faith. How can the Body properly serve the world if the Body is malnourished of the love and affection, truth and service that must be operative and functional among its parts? We measure our impact around us and abroad. When will we measure the impact within? Many will tell us to not fuss about this and that we should be about the business of reaching the world, but if Christ Himself lays down the example of servanthood among the servants as the fertile soil from which harvest will come for the glory of God, then are we in danger of insubordination by not tending properly to the health and well being of the community of faith?
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (NIV)
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” John 21:16 (NIV)
Another aspect of this is to consider what kind of witness it is to the world when we serve them extravagantly while we serve the family of God with meager spiritual resources, in mediocre, tepid fellowship, with minimal care for their significant health and well being. Do we really want to replicate the same atmosphere to those we are trying to reach? That’s like a very dysfunctional family seeking to create healthy families without changing their health! In this mode, we will be reliant on programs, and gimmicks, and technology, and ‘stuff’, because what we offer is not an authentic expression of our hearts but an automated, autonomous extension of our efforts and agendas. Healthy families do not have to broadcast or prove their health. They do what they are.
Let’s be clear. This is not an “either/or” debate but a both/and obligation. It is the effective execution of the Great Commission as we experience the divine reality of the Great Commandment. When our reliance is completely on Christ and our hearts are captured by His love and our fellowship with one another is a natural (or supernatural) byproduct of the indwelling Spirit, the only true source of true fellowship, the world may also come to us, even as we still go to them. In this way, coming and going, the final destination is Christ on roads paved with love and servanthood that are most effective when they begin at home.