Summary: from Hugh Halter's work on incarnational living
Tangible Kingdom – Obstacles
Matt. 5:13-16 Salt and Light – This is what God sees in us!
13 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. 14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Shine! Don’t Hide. Make others thirsty for God. Jesus said that unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it abides alone. An unplanted seed bears no fruit. Jesus is the perfect example of incarnation; Jesus left heaven to take up residency on planet earth. He did this in order to bring life into this world, into us.
Now He commissions us to follow His example, to Leave the old life we knew, to Live Among the world around us as little christs – Christians, to listen to the people around us and love them unconditionally. Easier said than done, right?
The Enemies of Incarnational Community
Selfishness - is the enemy of Leaving; “I or Me” can be the most damning attitude. Doing what I want, holding on to the things I want, filling my life with the toys and joys that I want keep me from leaving my old world behind to experience God’s best. Do you seriously think that you have better ideas than God? Is it possible that the plans you have for your life are more likely to bring you joy and happiness than what God has in store for you?
What can you do to combat Selfishness?
1. Let people live in your home for extended periods of time.
2. Have dinners or doing dinners out with unchurched neighbors.
3. Do what you love with others.
4. Go out of your way to build relationships.
5. Look for chances to talk.
Fear - is the enemy of Living Among; ever been afraid to try something new? Your mind can come up with a dozen reasons why this is a stupid idea. We are experts at arriving at the worst case scenario. Problem is, worst case is seldom the real case.
Remember a time when you could go around the block without an adult holding your hand. I can’t remember my parents walking us to school or even driving us, though it was ½ a mile (each way, uphill) Recently Danielle and Alexander Meitiv allowed their 10 and 6 year old children to walk to the neighborhood park unsupervised. As they returned, the police picked the children up, drove them home, scolded them about the dangers of the world and Child Protective Services forced them to sign a temporary safety plan under threat of taking their children away. Yet the facts are that stranger abduction is at an all time low, and children are actually in greater danger of obesity for not being allowed to play outdoors unsupervised. Kids going to sporting events now see their parents interfere and get overly involved, overly competitive and ruining normal healthy neighborhood time. About the only time during the year where families open their doors to their neighbors today is Halloween. And conservative Christians are leading the charge to make children afraid of that one day!
The Bible is filled with one simple thought from Heaven – whether from the lips of Jesus or one of His messengers. That thought is “Don’t be afraid!”
That was the message to Mary from Gabriel, to Abraham from God. It was the message from Jesus to His disciples when they saw him walking on the water.
The only power fear has is to rob, steal and destroy. What fears are occupying your mind lately? Don’t let fear rob you.
In order to do a better job living among, Shelley and I are talking about finding space in our lives to join the Mentor Sr. Center. Some of you may want to let your hobbies or interests lead you into a relationship where living among others overcomes your fear.
Arrogance - is the enemy of Listening; I battle it every day. It’s arrogant to think that what I have to say is more important than what others have to say. My thoughts aren’t more valuable and don’t need to be heard more thoroughly than your thoughts. How can I truly listen if I am thinking about what I am going to say next? How can I expect you to listen if I don’t set the example? Listening is love in action, an unwillingness to listen shows that I am too arrogant to love. Listen, listen, love, love.