• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

the Stain

Today’s post comes from Richard in Moldova.

We all know the feeling of being picked last for the school yard game or not being invited to a social gathering when we are younger, but we grow out of this, right? Or does this same fear of feeling inconsequential among co-workers still linger, just manifesting itself in different ways. Missionaries are not immune from this human hunger to be accepted and feel valued. Keller, in King’s Cross, illustrates how even in ministry this desire can disguise itself as a legitimate spiritual operating system which actually becomes our Savior. Keller points out that If your church grows and people like you, you feel good. On the other hand, if your church does not grow and people don’t like you, then we don’t feel good. What about in a cross cultural worker’s life; if our support level is good and we are able to obtain our living permits, then we are affirmed. On the contrary, if we struggle with language or just can’t seem to influence anyone to follow Christ, then we wonder if we are worthy.  Spurgeon said it this way, “Don’t preach the gospel in order to save your soul“. Maybe William Carey or ____________ the missionary would have said it this way, “Don’t win the world in order to save your soul!” There are many other ways we try to cover this longing.  How would you say it?

What do we do with this desire or are we bound to the “longing-life”? In Mark 7, the Pharisees are all talking about outside-in cleaning and in Mark 7:14-15 Jesus shockingly begins talking about inside-out cleaning. Why was it shocking? Keller tells about a sermon he heard by Ray Dillard. Dillard drew on his scholarship and pointed out that the cleanliness laws, representing outside-in cleansing, were the only way the people knew how to be in the presence of God. For years they had watched or heard about the ritual of the one priest that could enter into the holy of holies. They knew the rituals it took in order for him to be spiritually ready to enter into God’s presence and they also knew that his entrance and acceptance into the holy of holies would be the deciding factor if their sins were pardoned as well. In Mark 7:19-20, Jesus declares that all food is clean and that man can only be defiled from that which comes from the inside of man, or his heart. It is our heart that is the master motivator and slave driver for this false operating system that depends on CD’s, floppy disks and other outside sources to keep us running. When we try to depend on outside sources, we fall short and end up feeling disappointed, frustrated, depressed, unsatisfied and discontent. It is only a shadow and we will have to keep coming back again and again to feel a sense of true acceptance. Jesus say in Heb 10:10, “For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.” (NIV)

What are we depending on besides the sacrifice of the body of Jesus to fulfill our longing for value and acceptance? How do we try to escape our feeling of inconsequentiality? Who knows us well enough to pray for us in the areas we strive outside of Christ to earn our value or to be worthy of the financial support of others? Who are we intentionally investing in to point them to Jesus for total acceptance?


Next week: chapter 8 – “the Approach”

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