Our current sermon series is inspired by the prayer Jesus taught us, a prayer we pray together every week: “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.”
But, if we’re not careful, we can easily fall into the trap of assuming that God’s real work, the most important stuff, is happening somewhere else.
Our cultural wanderlust is seen in novels by Jack London and Ernest Hemingway, movies like Easy Rider and Eat Pray Love, television shows like The Amazing Race and House Hunters International. Even the Christian missionary literature of David Livingstone and Hudson Taylor and Jim Eliot reveal adventurous travels that happen somewhere else.
Kentucky native and essayist Wendell Berry, on the other hand, says, “What I stand for is what I stand on.”
Could Hemingway have ever said that? I don’t think so.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with travelling, especially for missionary work! But, again, if we’re not careful, we can slip into thinking that’s the only place where God is at work. Jesus makes clear in that prayer we pray every week, that our mission is to join him in our neighborhoods, to make them more and more like heaven, instead of simply looking forward to being in heaven ourselves.
In his book Staying is the New Going: Choosing to Love Where God Places You, author Alan Briggs writes,
We want to change the world, but our true task is to be faithfully present long enough for Jesus to change the world through us. Jesus alone has the power to change hearts. We move into neighborhoods, inhabit cities, react with grace, occupy cubicles, celebrate those around us, grieve for the cracks in our world, all the while learning to find beauty in the mundane.
You’ve undoubtedly heard the command, “Go forth!” But I say unto you, “Stay forth!”
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