The Tangible Kingdom - four practices
This is my second post on this book by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay.
Towards the end of the book they identify four practices that people who are on mission have made into habits. They are simple and I think we would all benefit from some intentional focus on them. Through people's exposure to the media etc. many people have closed themselves to the gospel or have incorrect assumptions about God - they have programmed responses. These habits can help get beyond those responses.
A missionary is someone who is sent. But leaving isn't just about going overseas. It's about replacing personal or Christian activities with time spent building relationships with people in the surrounding culture. It is about inviting non-Christians to be part of your leisure activities, having a meal once a week with spiritual seekers, meeting with other Christians in more public places etc.
Listening is watching and sensitively responding to the unspoken and spoken needs of people in ways that demonstrate sincere interest - the person at the shop counter who looks down, the neighbour who is lonely... It is not just a process studying demographics or of questions and answers.
This is about how we live in the middle of the community around us - not separate from it from some fear of losing our 'holiness', or being so identified with it that there is no discernable difference. It is Jesus' ability to party with sinners and tax collectors and be without sin. It means participating in the natural activities of the culture around you with a holiness that allows you to be with people without casting judgment their way.
Loving without strings:
God's intention is to bring blessing into people's lives. It stems from His covenant with Abraham and his intention is to bring that blessing through people. Now to bless someone is to 'ask divine favour or a person' or 'to make happy or prosperous or gladden'. It isn't just a verbal wish it should often include action (see James 2:14-17). It is done without strings - reference Jesus feeding 4000, 5000, making wine, healing people etc. Loving without strings is about learning to receive God's free, no-strings-attached offer and then graciously living a life to extend blessing to others without charge and without expectation.
Selfishness is the enemy of "Leaving"
Fear is the enemy of "Living Among"
Arrogance is the enemy of "Listening"
Expectations are the enemy of "Loving"
David Wanstall, 03/09/2009