For the past few months I have been relating to you stories of the missional work I have been doing within my neighborhood. These stories and experiences have been based upon reality not my hopes or dreams . All ground zero missional work taking place on a daily basis in my community.
What has been amazing to me is that of the hundreds of those who have read these blogs not one has expressed any interest or any contact with me in doing this most strategic missional work. How could this be? For the past few weeks I have sought the Lord and believe I know why this has occurred. What really cemented my conclusions was my reacquainting myself with the work of Henri Nouwen, specifically his book “Life Of The Beloved.” In reading this again for the fourth time I am reminded of the devastating effect not having our minds and hearts fully around the fact that we are the Father’s sons and daughters and that as such we are His beloved and since this love is unconditional He is always pleased with us. (see Mark 1:11)
To not have this as the reality of our lives, branded in our minds and on our hearts leads us to seek a self-obsessed life. A life as Nouwen calls it in a “distant country.” A life where our kingdom rules and not God’s Kingdom and will rules. A life where we are constantly seeking affirmation and love from other sources while the Father stands ready to lavishly lay all the love and affirmation we need through Him and living in His Kingdom. Too many of us know this distant country too well I believe. This”country” is dry and barren with no fruit bearing as we cling to us alone who has no power or energy to produce the love required to care for our neighbor. This is where our heart and mind resides apart from knowing we are His beloved.
We seek our kingdom and produce nothing when we could do as Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:33 (also see John 15:1-8) seek my kingdom and produce fruit that will tell me you are my disciple.
So who has time for their neighbor when they are daily trying to manage their kingdom, their need for approval, affirmation and love. That is a heavy load too carry my friend.
Can I remind you again of the wonderful paraphrasing of Matthew 11:28-30 that Eugene Peterson giver us in the Message Bible:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Learning to live freely and lightly starts with KNOWING you are His BELOVED!
So let’s take a time out from thinking about neighborhood missional work and focus on the prerequisite resource for you to undertake this work. Abandoning your need to find love and acceptance anywhere but in the hands and care of the Father who loves you.
How are you going to get to this place? Here are a few thoughts in line with John 15:1-8.
ABIDE through the spiritual exercises of scripture memorization (Mark 1:11, Matthew 6:33 and John 15:1-8) and meditation bathed in prayer and solitude. Sit with verses for a good while, journal as led so you don’t forget anything you have heard from the Father.
Then after a couple weeks comment here or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) about the next step in missional neighborhood ministry or how you are doing in general.
Remember your neighbor needs to know the Love of the Father as much as you.