When we put the five practices into play - seeking the Kingdom, hearing from God in His Word, talking with people outside the family of faith, doing good for people, and prayer - we change the status quo of the created realm. In other words, stuff changes in the places we are.
Right now, at this moment, the Kingdom of God has already come, the mission of God is already in process, and we are the body of Christ in the places we live, work and go to school. As we put these practices into play, we are the tangible expression of the Kingdom and mission of God in the places we are and for the people we are with. His Spirit gets loose in the realm of humanity through our presence, words, actions and prayers. And things do not remain the same.
Knowing this truth does not change the world. Acting on this truth changes the world.
For several months now, my wife and I have been gathering with groups of Jesus followers. You could call them missional communities and that would be accurate. We don't really have a label for what we do, we just gather regularly to support each other in seeking, recognizing and responding to what Jesus is doing in our lives and in the lives of people we are with each day. We gather regularly in order to have a place to tell our Kingdom stories. We have found that if we stay focused on putting the five practices into play in our lives, God-things begin to happen. We have stories to tell.
We have also found that if we gather regularly to tell those stories of what is happening as a result of putting these practices into play, we remain highly motivated to go back into our lives to do it some more.
Telling our Kingdom stories reinforces our Kingdom values which reinforces our Kingdom practices which insures having more Kingdom stories to tell.
Last Wednesday evening, as usual, we heard some more Kingdom stories of what has happened as a result of our friends putting these practices into play in the places they live, work and go to school. I have summarized a few of them to give you an insight to how it goes.
One person is a teacher at a high school in a rough part of the city. She has been seeking the Kingdom there, recognizing Jesus already at work and responding to Him. She has been praying and having conversations and asking questions and waiting on the Lord's prompting and timing over the course of the last several months. Each time we gather as a group, she tells the stories of what she and the high school Jesus followers are seeing and doing as they join Jesus in His mission there. Simple, amazing stuff going on. That place is not the same.
A young couple has recently moved into a difficult part of the city... on purpose. They believe God gave it to them to do. They are joining Him on His mission. They drive by dealers every day that are doing their ungodly business on the corners next to the place where they live. After several weeks of putting the five practices into play, however, things are no longer the same. The Kingdom is in play in that place. The dealers are still dealing. But this couple has been establishing friendships with them, learning their names, having conversations with them, telling them why they are living in the area, doing good for them as they have opportunity. There is one particular man - a scary-big mountain of a man - who seems to be their person of peace (i.e., someone that the Holy Spirit has been preparing to receive what this couple is offering, the things of the Kingdom). Who knows where it will all lead? The story is still being told. But there is a story to be told because they put the practices into play and had a place to unpack their Kingdom story.
One more story (there were several more, though, Wednesday night): Another couple, just learning to seek and follow Jesus themselves, has been putting the five practices into play in the places they live and work. Things are changing. Each time we gather, they tell their stories of what they've done in response to what God seems to be showing them. It's not always easy or fun. But there is always a story. They have a neighbor whose life is a mess but who is open to letting God bring redemption to his mess. They have had conversations with him, they have had him over for a beer and then a meal. And after several weeks, this couple came to our group Wednesday night to tell us this man wants to be baptized and to have his children baptized too. His life is still not in complete order (whose is?) but He wants what Jesus is offering.
And all that because this couple DID something to put the Kingdom and mission of God into play in the life of their neighbor. And they felt inspired and supported in doing this because of the other Kingdom stories they were regularly hearing. It helped them learn how to seek, recognize and respond to Jesus in their life.
Do you want to have Kingdom stories to tell? Missional living is not about what you know. It is about what you do with what you know. Why not start today?