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In the Safety of the Christian Bubble

I read a story the other day about a young pastor who stopped at a gas station to fill up his car, and he had a meaningful conversation with the gas attendant about faith. When he got back in his car to drive away, he realized that had been the first conversation he had with a non-Christian since he started in pastoral ministry a short eighteen months earlier.

He resigned the next day.

I’ve been pastoring churches full-time for the past 28 years, and I get it. I know how easy it is to stay in the safety of the Christian bubble where we speak the same language, share the same values, and live the same lifestyle. But there’s only one problem with this.

That’s not what Jesus did.

Jesus was a friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19). He ate with a disreputable tax collector named Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). He sat at a well with a woman of the world (John 4:1-30). He spoke the truth with love to a woman actually caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1-11). And He didn’t care what people thought of Him when a prostitute wiped His feet with her hair and anointed them with oil (Luke 7:36-50).

Jesus lived no cloistered life, separated from the struggles of humanity. And, yet, I fear I have remained far too insulated from the very people with whom Jesus would sit and share a meal. I’ve done this not from a judgmental attitude or from fear of getting tarnished with the sins of the world. I’ve done it simply by default of church busyness, and in that, I have lost sight of my calling.

Os Guinness warns us, “When Christians concentrate their time and energy on their own separate spheres and their own institutions—whether all-absorbing megachurches, Christian businesses, or womb-to-tomb Christian cultural ghettoes—they lose the outward thrusting, transforming power that is at the heart of the gospel” (The Call, 219).

Well, 2020 is a new year filled with new opportunities. And if you’ve found yourself, like me, isolated from the very ones we need to be loving and reaching for Christ, then here’s some good news. We can make a change. We can choose to be salt and light, to be in the world but not of it.

I love the words of C. T. Studd: “Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop, within a yard of hell.”

I leave you with the same challenge given by Os Guinness, “Is your faith privately engaging but socially irrelevant? Is it as consistent in your place of work as in your home? Are you acting as `salt’ and `light,’ or do you need to be locked out of a Christian ghetto? Listen to the commanding invitation of Jesus that is both a call and a charge: `Follow Me’” (ibid., 220).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

Is it Time to Choose a Different Path?

Here we are only a couple of weeks into the New Year. So, how are you doing? Are you already feeling overwhelmed, burned out, and ready for another vacation? Or are you ready to drive a stake into the ground, take a stand, and declare, “This year will be different! I will not give up, fade away, sit back, and wither away! I choose a different path that may be less trodden but take it I will! My current path is well worn but leading nowhere! I’m ready to step off the old and onto the new, and may God help me!”

Although I’ve never seen the movie simply called 300, the history upon which it was based has always intrigued me. The year was 480 B.C. The Persian army, led by King Xerxes, was the greatest the world had ever seen. Eighty thousand men rode on horseback or in chariots, and around them marched foot soldiers and archers beyond counting.

When they marched, it was said the ground trembled. When they ate, it was as though locusts had devoured all in their path. When they drank, it seemed that entire ponds were dried up and rivers reduced to a trickle. It took a full week for this colossal and terrible army to pass by the king in review.

After four years of preparation, King Xerxes set out from Susa to avenge the defeat of his father, Darius. He intended to conquer Greece, which at this time was not yet the shining empire it would once become. The quarrelsome Greeks were as much at war with each other as they would be with the Persians.

So it was that this super-army of perhaps 250,000 soldiers (Herodotus said three million) was opposed by a rag-tag force of 7,000 Greeks from five city-states. At their core, 300 Spartans were trained to stand or die. They were led by a 55-year-old prince named Leonidas, and they took their stand in a narrow pass, twenty yards wide.

At first, the Persians must have looked at this encounter as a simple mop-up operation, but for two days the unstoppable were stopped. Only after a betrayal did the Spartans find themselves surrounded, and when swords were gone, according to Herodotus, they fought on with their hands and teeth. Before their imminent death, they sent home this stirring message which became their epitaph: “Stranger, tell the Spartans that we behaved as they would wish us to, and are buried there.”

That little band of Greek warriors had no idea what was to come. They could never have known how their courage would trigger a surge of pride and inspire their fellow countrymen to eventually defeat the Persians, and within thirty short years, Athens became the most influential city the world has ever known. (Adapted from Os Guinness, The Call, 87-89.)

Dedicated and courageous, the 300 did their duty. They did not give up, fade away, sit back, or wither away. They chose a different path that led to greater triumph, even in the wake of defeat.

My question for you is this: Will it be said of you, “Stranger, tell our Lord that I have behaved as He would wish me to behave, and I am buried here”? For when you take a stand for Jesus, regardless of the immediate outcome, victory will one day follow.

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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