OK, sorry for the title….
The 2nd step towards actually being missional is loving. This seems like a no brainer, but it’s really not.
First, God calls us to leave. Then he calls us to love the people he is sending us to.
Here is an example of God calling his people to leave and love:
In Jeremiah 29 a letter from Jeremiah is sent to “the surviving exiles” that were taken captive and we now under the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. The Jews in exile simply are not adjusting well to their new homes in a foreign country with a different religion and world view. They simply don’t like being there. They don’t get along with their neighbors, many of them are trying to relocate to the suburbs, and I’m sure there is a movement growing to get good, “solid” Jewish education started so their children don’t have to go to public school. The culture is uncomfortable and unpleasant.
Here is the letter that God wrote (through Jeremiah) to them:
“”Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” – Jeremiah 29:4-7
Here are a few observations of the passage:
- God’s people are living in comfortable Jerusalem where everyone around them has the same beliefs, lifestyle, value, and nationality.
- God send them into a culture full of rowdy nonbelievers that look and talk differently.
- God instructs them to stay.
- God instructs them to care for the welfare of the city. The actual word for “welfare” is shalom. This is the Hebrew word for God’s blessing and overall peace.
- God calls them to pray to the city.
- God calls them the love the city and the people in it.
Do you love where you are? Are you seeking shalom for your school? Your work? Your city?
Just as God sent the people in Jerusalem into Babylon, he sends us into Tempe and ASU to not only be there, but love there.
We can be a college ministry that despises ASU, flees from it, and has a safe, comfortable ministry.
Or, we can be a college ministry that plants itself in the middle of the culture and seeks it’s shalom.
In what ways are you fleeing from where God has placed you?
How can you love the culture God has placed you in?