It is so easy to find yourself stuck in a Christian sub-culture. In fact, it is so easy most of us do not realize we are in one. Jesus commands us to be both salt and light (Mt 5). Both illustrations assume that Christians are involved in the rotting decaying world of darkness. In order to transform the world with the Gospel we must engage the world. Yet our temptation is to seclude ourselves into a spiritual bomb shelter. We create a large institution with all kinds of Christian programs so that we never have to interact with the lost world around us. Many churches and Christians have found themselves in a secluded sectarianism. Yet we cannot be salt and light if we stay hidden in our spiritual bomb shelter waiting for the apocalypse. Jesus is coming soon. We must leave our holy huddles and engage the world.
Am I in a Spiritual Bunker?
Are you trapped in a christian sub-culture? Well here are a few diagnostic questions to ask yourself.
- How many non-christians do you know by name?
- How many of those people do you have in your contacts on your cell phone?
- When was the last time you had lunch with someone who didn't know Jesus?
If we are honest with those three questions I think we will be ashamed of their answers. For many of us (including myself) we simply do not know people who don't know Jesus. We have become so isolated in our christian sub-culture that we cannot function as salt and light because we don't know anyone to be salt and light too.
So if you are like me and tend to get trapped in the spiritual bunker, what are some practical ways you can get out and engage the world for Jesus? Here are three easy and practical ways:
1. Find a Hobby or Activity Apart from the Church
Do something that is not associated with the church at all. Rather than joining an upward basketball team go join the rec. league and meet people who don't know Christ. Go join a community bowling league. Go hang out at high school football games. Be active in your child's PTA. Be involved and active in things that are not church related and do not apologize for it. However, do these things as a missionary, participating for the good of the community and for the evangelization of the lost people and friends you will make.
2. Be a Regular at Local Establishments
An easy way to get to know people who are lost is to be a regular somewhere. Go to the same restaurant every week. Go to the gym at the same time every day. Put a smile on your face and interact with people. Be kind and tip well. Ask the employees questions and strike up conversations. Get to know people and be their friend. You will be surprised how many opportunities you will have to share Christ through those relationships.
3. Invite Your Neighbors Over for a Dinner Party
Everyone loves a party. Christian hospitality is a wonderful gift and a huge catalyst for relational evangelism. Invite your neighbors on your street over for a BBQ. Grill some burgers and get to know each other. Become friends and see where God will take that relationship. God has placed you in your neighbored to be a missionary to your community. Begin praying and looking for ways to get to know the people who live around you.
Functioning as Salt and Light
Be intentional about looking for opportunities to make new friends who don't know Christ. We tend to drift towards the spiritual bunker more than we drift towards missional engagement. Be disciplined and pray that God gives you opportunities to get to know new people. These three tips are things anyone can do and anyone can put into practice. Get out of the Bomb Shelter and go be the children of the light empowered and redeemed by the Light of the World, our Lord Jesus Christ.
I recently preached a sermon on Matthew 5:13-16 on what it means to be salt and light. You can check out the sermon audio here.