At the time I am writing this post, it is the close of another year. By the time it gets published, it will be the start of a new year full of hope and anticipation. But right now as I type these words, I am celebrating advent and dwelling on how Jesus came to us in the form of a baby—the most unexpected and vulnerable way a Savior could come to us. To the people looking for a political, kingly Savior, He came as a helpless babe. And that was just the start of the surprises our Lord had up His sleeve. He was true to the Word of God in Isaiah where He tells us His thoughts and ways are not like our own. And thank God they aren’t. Imagine what the Savior of the world would look like if we humans tried to think Him up!

He didn’t come conformed to the image of our desires. Instead, He humbled Himself, loved and served the vulnerable and the weak, befriended sinners, healed the outcasts, and paid little attention to the political persuasions of the day. It seems Jesus’ rescue mission didn’t have to include the perfect political or religious party’s allegiance to make a true impact on the world. Instead, He sought out and used ordinary, broken people to advance a gospel of repentance, grace, and faith—a laying down of our lives, our rights, and our desires in order to follow Him. This doesn’t sound like the Messiah many were seeking thousands of years ago, and I’m starting to think it doesn’t sound like the Messiah we in the American church desire today. How wonderful to think He is above our thoughts and desires. How freeing to know it is much more to our benefit and to the benefit of the world around us that we conform to His image rather than trying to stuff him into our own image and likeness. What horrible gods we humans make.

How freeing to know it is much more to our benefit and to the benefit of the world around us that we conform to His image rather than trying to stuff him into our own image and likeness.

And we wonder why our children are growing up and walking away from the faith. My fear is that part of the reason for this exodus has to do with our conforming to the likeness of the Pharisees rather than the likeness of Jesus Christ. The religious elite of Jesus’ day are not that far from many of us. They were the very ones who had Jesus—God Himself—crucified for seeking to sabotage their version of religion. The one who created truth, faith, and meaning was killed for not conforming to human expectations, hopes, and beliefs about what was true and necessary.

This past year I was part of a discipleship group of five women. We read through the Bible together, journaling truths we learned, asking each other questions, and desiring to hold one another accountable. One question we asked ourselves had to do with whether or not we’d shared the hope of Jesus with anyone recently. Typically, each of our answers would be no. Over the past few months, God has brought me under conviction about that fact in my life. I can share things about my faith on Facebook with ease, but when it comes to personally engaging an unbeliever in a conversation about Jesus, I am far too often found mute. As a young, stay-at-home mom of four, I can easily make excuses for myself. I’m busy. I’m home currently rather than in the workplace. I don’t even go to a gym anymore since we moved to our new home farther from a convenient location. My husband is on staff at our church and church life is a major part of our weekly routine. In all honesty, it has become far too easy for me to avoid being around people who think differently and live differently than I do. And I hate to admit it, but it has become far too comfortable as well.

An encounter I had once with another church-goer paints this picture. When encouraged to think about starting a Bible study in her neighborhood, or simply reaching out to people outside of our church, she said, “Honestly, I only have so much time to spend with people outside of my family, and I’d much rather spend that time with my friends.” I remember feeling shocked at the selfishness of that statement and thinking about how it stood in complete opposition to the life Jesus called us to live, going and making disciples. But I fear that, though I wouldn’t be so bold as to come out and say it like she did, my life resembles her sentiments in action more than I’d care to admit.

Not only that, but I’ve begun to wonder what I’d even say to an unbeliever that would be compelling enough to cause them to want to follow Christ. And it’s not because Christ Himself is not more than compelling. It is much more because the rhetoric, lifestyle, and passions of some of us in the modern-day American church have in many ways become so much like that of the New Testament Pharisees. Is Christ my life? Is my passion for Christ and love for others so compelling that people notice the difference? Or am I too often caught up in “religion” and policing other’s views?

Is my passion for Christ and love for others so compelling that people notice the difference? Or am I too often caught up in “religion” and policing other’s views?

So as we enter into a new year (and not just any year in our country, but an election year at that!), I’m asking God to show me how to be less like myself and more like Jesus. I want to conform to His image in the way I spend my time, the conversations I have, the opinions I hold, the friendships I seek, and the places I go. Maybe this is not the year for us to hide in homogeneous groups. Maybe it’s time for young moms to join mom groups outside of the church body in order to be intentional about reaching outside of our friend groups and comfort zones. Maybe those in the workplace could begin reaching outside of our circles over lunch. Maybe it’s time to ask ourselves how we can intentionally walk with Jesus who came to seek, befriend, and save the lost. He didn’t come to condemn the world, but to save it. And through the power of His Holy Spirit in us, He wants to continue that work. How I pray that I will let Him have His way in me this year, and each day He gives me breath on this earth.

*If you want to push yourself to think more about evangelism as a lifestyle, I encourage you to read Out of the Saltshaker and Into the World: Evangelism as a Way of Life, by Rebecca Manley Pippert.

Lindsey wingo

 

Lindsey Wingo is the founder and editor of the Missional Motherhood blog. She is the wife of Worship Pastor, Ryan Wingo, and stay-at-home mother of four sweet kiddos—Ivey, Ruthie, Charlie, and Henry. It is her prayer and vision that Missional Motherhood would unite mothers from around the globe with the common purpose of raising up a mighty generation of Christ-followers in an increasingly dark world. Lindsey loves to connect with other women and to study and teach God’s Word. She also enjoys coffee and chocolate (YUM), sewing, game nights with her family, days on the lake or at the beach, and her current idea of the perfect date night is cuddling in the bed with her hubby while watching one of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover DVDs! (That is, if a night at the Cinebistro is out of the question…) She is an imperfect mother who has to continually remind herself of the hope found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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