The Importance of Having 3 Wheels In An Autorickshaw – Part 2 of 3

Last week we saw signs of what it looks like when our church is NOT living like it is God’s family. This is part of a series where I am comparing the “family of missionary slaves” model of being the church to an autorickshaw.

This week, let us look at how a local church looks like when it’s no longer living as missionaries. And I am assuming I am not the only one in all of God’s Kingdom who goes through times when I am no longer very eager to talk about Jesus before others who are not Christians.

 

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“This missionary is stationary and empty. Intriguing!”

When considering the three wheels of an autorickshaw, I am persuaded to think that the front wheel is the missionary wheel. The front wheel gives control & direction to the autorickshaw, just as the missionary aspect gives the church right direction. It is the main thing. The primary task of the church is to show the world Christ Jesus, it’s Savior and it’s Judge.
After all, it was Jesus’ own chief purpose in life. After all, God’s Holy Spirit is given to Christians, to proclaim the gospel in word and through our new lives.

In the midst of creating God’s community and serving with much grace, Jesus’ one purpose was to be a missionary by proclaiming the Good news that forgiveness is available to those who turn from their sins and put their trust in Him. He began with not just good deeds, as some might claim, but used audible gospel words.

So how can we know if His church is no longer keen to live like missionaries for their Lord Jesus?

Problem II. Our church is not living as God’s missionaries.

Symptoms
1. We don’t pray desperately for people we know to get saved- Neither do we pray for our zeal. When was the last time you and your church prayed regularly for someone’s conversion from sin to Christ? I mean – does it hurt you that someone doesn’t believe in our precious Lord Jesus? That they would perish on the final Day?

2. We don’t find time for evangelism, because we have our life-priorities wrong. We are called to seek first God’s kingdom, which implies there has to be repentance and re-orientation in how we live our personal life, career and recreation for the gospel and God’s mission. Like the disciples, we can find ourselves in a corner, trying to earn our own fish through our jobs to feed ourselves.

But this is NOT coastal Kerala lunch-time! This is the kingdom of God, if you indeed belong to Him!

3. We find our time spent mostly in places where only other Christians are found. Easy life?
When did Jesus say hanging out comes at the cost of initiating and developing relationships with non-Christians? But that is exactly what a lot of us end up doing, don’t we?
Remember how Jesus Christ pursued us while we were still sinners? Let’s go do likewise – consistently!

4. We are seldom invited by non-Christian friends to hang out with them.
As my church community elder recently reminded us in a sermon, Jesus was so often invited by ‘sinners’ for their parties. And He gladly went.
Are you invited by your lost friends? When invited, Do you let a couple of believers tag along and go?

Why not? Maybe it’s time to ask the Lord the reason?

5. We fear men and women above God- we are afraid of confrontational talk and discussions that can bring us trouble in any form.
A lot of times, being a servant of Christ could mean nothing but being the most loving spiritual whistle-blower in town.

6. We have been bad examples before non-Christians and that hinders the gospel.
Repent and asking forgiveness to the Lord AND to our non-Christian friends is a good starting point out of that mess. I have been there. God will come to our aid, even when we don’t deserve Him.

7. We don’t hear or read of others’ salvation stories and learn from the experience of veterans in sharing the gospel.

This should be self-explanatory.

8. We do evangelism, but we do not rely on Holy Spirit to give us Jesus-type of love for others.
When with non-believers, do you talk about their bad behaviour behind their backs, with little intention of addressing the problem with the person concerned? That’s sin- that’s gossip. 1st Corinthians 13 reminds us that without love, God counts this “evangelism” nonsense-noise.

Are there any other points you see that are missing from these symptoms? Please write in from your experience of sharing the gospel.

Next week : Signs that our church is not living as God’s slaves.

The Importance of Having 3 Wheels In An Autorickshaw – Part 1 of 3.

The “family of missionary slaves” model of being the church, reminds me of the wheels of an autorickshaw.

For those who do not know yet, the Marg community strives to be a “family of missionary slaves”. This is derived from principles found in the Bible – a local church is actually neither a building nor a 3-hour event on a Sunday. It is instead, people who are :
1. God’s family,
2. God’s missionaries and
3. Slaves to Jesus and to others,
Every day, each week.

Now the autorickshaw, that quintessential Indian vehicle, has three wheels. I like to think of each wheel representing each of the above three aspects, while God’s Holy Spirit could be represented by the vehicle’s engine. Without the engine, the ride ain’t going nowhere.

But if even one wheel goes missing, the church will only go round in circles, defeating it’s own purpose of taking the good news of Christ ahead.

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Because we Christians are still fighting it out with the sinful nature within, we could forget or ignore living out one or all three of these Biblical aspects. How can we know if we are lacking? What symptoms do we look for ?

Here are possible signs of a church not living as a family, as God always intended it to. We will look at the other two problems in the coming two weeks.

Problem I. Our church is not living as God’s family.

Symptoms
1. We don’t pray regularly for each others’ specific needs. In fact, we don’t even know what to pray for, because we have been just meeting, greeting, studying, laughing and leaving. But is that how a family operates?
If Jesus were here with us physically today, would he be happy to just smile, ask convenient questions for 5 minutes, discuss the latest movie, study the Bible with us and leave and not be involved deeply with our lives? Would He not pray for his people? In fact, He still does. (Heb 7:24-25)
But do we care enough to pray? Or have we been delegating that task to Jesus Christ with a quick “God bless them please”?

2. We don’t meet up or eat with each other as a family does, regularly. If the church is family to us, do we hang out with others in the church? And by hanging out, let’s for once, look beyond youth chilling out with other youth, or old people sit around with other old people.
When was the last time the youth in your church dined with the veterans? Or do we just prefer to form little groups of our preference? Then how are we different from the world? Then how are we like Jesus?

3. We seldom ask each other in the church for ‘real’ help. When I am in real trouble, I call up my dad. But if we call ourselves “Family” and if we are in need of spiritual counsel or even material help, do we call up a brother or sister who could help?
But the first thoughts that rush in –
“I should not disturb them”.
“They will think I have no shame to ask for help”.
“They must be busy”.

Would a mother think these thoughts when, say her son offers to help with doing the laundry? Does a girl hesitate to ask for support from her big sister when she is down and out?

But many churches sadly foster individualistic lifestyles, when we forget or ignore that church was always meant to be family. Remember and repent -Christ made us His people, one family at the foot of the cross.

4. Our sharing of the gospel with non-believers is mostly an individualistic affair.
Most of us want to tell our friends and neighbours about our awesome Lord Jesus and His love for them. But we find it difficult.
And if you are anything like me, you too would like some help with this.

But here we are, stuck between gears in our efforts to reach out, because we are SO used to doing this all by ourselves. Why not ask our brothers or sisters for help in making plans and inviting friends for the sake of God’s glory?
Or is that too close for comfort? Do we fear exposure? From our God’s family, from our very own?

5. We don’t discuss God’s word in an open, vulnerable & personal fashion as family members ought to.
When was the last time we visited a church friend just because we wanted to understand something we could not understand in 1st Corinthian chapter 12? Or is that too out-dated and not cool?

Many Christian parents take utmost care to build up their children with Godly instruction and in teaching God’s love for them at the cross. When was the last time we showed such care and devotion to help another church member’s spiritual life?
Is a lack of concern for discussing God’s Word, the example Jesus left with us? If not, what are we doing to change this attitude?

These points are here only to help us check our own lives and bring them before Jesus in prayer- and hopefully before God’s family for discussion & encouragement!

These are just some signs of what a church could look like when it is not living as God’s family. Do you know any other signs that may have been missed out here?

Next week : Signs that our church is not living as God’s missionaries.