Inner transformation leads to outward mission

Why are we so much more concerned about 'us and ours' rather than 'them and theirs' asks Gary Gibbs.

I think I’m in danger of becoming a grumpy old man. There are an increasing number of things in life which upset me, frustrate me, and annoy me.

For example, those small tomato ketchup sachets you get given in fast food outlets. The first challenge is breaking into them in order to get at the sauce. In theory, it’s simple; rip open at the top and squirt onto the plate. I end up trying to tear it open with my bare teeth and even then it’s like breaking into Fort Knox.

The second issue is to do with the quantity of ketchup in the sachet; or lack of. So there I am with my All Day Breakfast going cold on the plate as I try in vain to open fifteen minuscule packets of tomato sauce. At this point, I am not a happy eater.

What frustrates you?

  • Is it drivers ambling along at 55mph in the middle lane of the motorway?
  • Is it floppy poppadums in an Indian restaurant?
  • Is it the England football team and their dire performance against Iceland in the Euros? Iceland for goodness sake! (I’m still not over it…).

Now, all of the above is written at least slightly tongue in cheek… I’m not Mr Angry and I am by nature an optimist with a long fuse. But there are a few things that do from time to time seriously sadden and frustrate me.

To start with, I’m a bit frustrated with myself. After so many decades of following Jesus, I think I should be so much further on in terms of my commitment to him. He said that if I love him, I would obey him (John 14:15) and I’m acutely aware that there are still times of outright rebellion raising its ugly head. How come I’m not more generous and kind? Why is my devotional life so hit and miss?

Then there is the body of Christ in the UK. There are moments when I feel sad and annoyed about us as the family of God. In particular, when we end up so consumed with ourselves rather than being primarily passionate about a nation which is far away from God.

It tears me up when we sometimes seem to be so much more concerned about ‘us and ours’ rather than ‘them and theirs’.

One of our highest values as God’s people has to be that lost people matter to God (John 3:16). But we must be sure that we work this out in practice in our churches. If it really is truly important to us we will show it in how we invest our time, money and energy in outreach and evangelism.

I guess it’s obvious to you that my personal frustration and my ecclesiastical frustrations are linked. The closer I am to Jesus, the more I sense his heart for this world and keep being filled with his Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), then I will be part of the answer.

Inner transformation will inevitably lead to outward mission, otherwise we are experiencing a false sense of encounter with the Lord.

So can I encourage you to, with me, once more repent of self- seeking consumerist faith and choose instead to pursue intimacy with God and to exhibit passion for lost women and men?

Let’s put down our frustrations and annoyances with ourselves and instead realise that Jesus loves us as we are and cares enough to transform us into true ambassadors of his Kingdom!

None of us will ever be the finished article this side of eternity, but by his Grace we keep moving upward, onwards and therefore…OUTWARDS!

Ignite Church, Lincoln, spent the summer seeking God – with amazing results, as Darren Edwards explains.
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