Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Are you settled?

"While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”   
Mark 2:15-17

I've noticed this horrible pattern in Christian social circles, specifically of those in college, and this pattern consists of becoming complacent with the environment around us. We start our freshman year eager to meet everyone and everything, excited about this new world around us, exhilarated with the idea of starting over. We meet someone new daily, whether it is in our first college lecture, or in Rattler's on a 2 a.m. junk food raid, and bam- we have ourselves new friends. We smile at every person, welcoming them into our lives without a second thought, we sit for hours listening to others share their lives, we have no boundaries on friendship. And then something shifts. We join organizations that encourage selectivity and close bonding, find friends who are just like us, and instead of treasuring those bonds for what they are, we cling tightly to them, making them our identity and security blanket. 

We become complacent.

No longer do we see strangers around us as potential people to meet. No longer do we reach out to people to boldly share Christ. No longer are we aware of our surroundings.  We're settled. We have everything we need. We spend time with the same people day in and day out, let our organizations identify us, and rarely let others outside of our "circle" in. Why is this? 

We as Christians are scared. We're scared of branching out for fear of shaking up this settled life we live, while claiming we put our fears in God's hands.  Common conversations range from "Why become friends with that unbeliever if they can't pour into us?","Why hang out with them- they're in (insert group)- we don't really click.","I only date (insert name of organization)'s." or "Oh..they won't fit with my friends.."

Let me tell you something that's going to make you uncomfortable, fellow brother or sister: when we refuse to step out of our comfort shell and dive into this lost world, we are failing to accomplish the mission of Christ. Sitting in Bible study will not make you a better Christian. Only spending time with fellow believers will not build your faith. Refusing to join an organization because it isn't under the name of Christ does not positively set you apart as a Christian. Bible studies are wonderful vessels to be poured into and to connect with those around us on a deeper level, but it shouldn't become our hiding place. Strong Christian friendships were designed to spur you on in your faith, not to encourage you to settle. Organizations are incredible ways to share His love, whether under a Christian name or not.

We look like snots when we refuse to let others into our "inner graces". I'm sorry, but tell me how that reflects the nature of Christ. The lives we should lead are not cookie cutter. Don't for a second think, "Nope, this doesn't apply to me"-  this message hits close to home for me too, or else I wouldn't be writing it. It's 2:02 a.m. the night before Thanksgiving, I should be asleep, but I just can't let another second pass without sharing my own conviction to you. Because I know without a shadow of doubt that it's coming from our mighty God who LOVES us passionately- He doesn't want to see our time here wasted. Remember who gave you this life in the first place. 

Bottom line, we need to LOOK UP from our circles and realize this world is so much bigger than we can even grasp. We need to stop thinking we are the 99%. We need to branch out for the sake of His name. 

I don't know what that looks like for your life. For me, realistically it means I need to make sure I forgo comfortability for the sake of sharing His message. God blessed me with incredible friendships, but I can't abandon that gift by forgetting about the world around me either. I understand that you may not be able to verbally tell every person around you about this precious Savior of ours, but that shouldn't stop you from simply loving everyone you interact. Look up, look around, everyone needs some love. Everyone needs HIS love.

Now let's go break some boundaries.