Book Club Channel
Read an Excerpt from "Godspeed"
Theologian Dallas Willard put it this way:
There truly is no division between sacred and secular except what we have created. And that is why the division of the legitimate roles and functions of human life into the sacred and secular does incalculable damage to our individual lives and to the cause of Christ. Holy people must stop going into "church work" as their natural course of action and take up holy orders in farming, industry, law, education, banking, and journalism with the same zeal previously given to evangelism or to pastoral and missionary work.
Wherever you are now, wherever you spend the majority of your time—that is your mission field. This is what it means to recapture our sense of sent-ness. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing—you were sent there.
Sometimes this is hard for American Christians to lay hold of because we've terribly misapplied the concept of separation between church and state. The predominant American mind-set claims little allegiance to religion, and most American Christians see Christianity as an add-on to an already good life. That is a monumental failure, and it messes up mission. It forces us to ask the wrong questions.
We say, "What does God want to do in my life, in my story?"
Incarnational Christianity says, "How can I participate in God's life and greater story?"
The latter question yields a very different result than the former. Americans claim little allegiance to any religion, and so we easily compartmentalize and privatize our Christian expression. The result is an American church that talks about Jesus only in church.
Many will say that they're unable to talk about Jesus in their workplaces or schools. "I want to be on mission, but it's just not allowed or appropriate."
If this is your reasoning, here's my response: Is that really true? Are you really not allowed to speak about Jesus in your school or at your workplace? Or is this a personal excuse?
If in fact that statement is true—if you are truly not allowed to talk about Jesus at work or school—then my response would be: awesome.
What history shows us, and what the world reveals presently, is that the gospel is most fruitful where Jesus is most forbidden. The gospel shines in those places. The less opportunity we have to talk about Jesus, the more opportunity we have to be like Jesus.
The goal is to look like Jesus. And sooner or later, I think every Christian discovers that looking like Jesus is a lot harder to do than it is to say.
Someone posted about this very struggle on our Missio Christi website:
I understand why it's so much easier for me and for many Christians to just invite people to church rather than to live as a Christian example. I am afraid to try and live as a Christian example. I often fail at it. Non-Christians will put me to shame in how they love and how they treat people in the community. To even match many non-Christians is hard. To surpass them to the point that I'm radiating Christ is an overwhelming prospect. I might be okay twenty-eight days out of the month, but it just takes your non-Christian business associates seeing you those other two days at your worst for them to see a hypocrite and someone who is judgmental rather than loving.
Can anyone relate? I can fully relate. He is absolutely right.
Someone else posted this quote by G. K. Chesterton in response: "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and left untried."
Britt Merrick is the founding pastor of Reality, a network of churches with locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Ventura, Stockton, Santa Barbara, and London, England. He is the author of Big God and blogs at www.brittmerrick.com. Britt lives and surfs with his wife, Kate, and their two children in Carpinteria, CA.