He executes justice for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, he lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves those who live justly. The LORD watches over the immigrant and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. -Psalm 146:7-9

Sunday, January 15, 2012

To Return or Not To Return

I'm praying tonight.  I'm praying for the involvement of the church in under resourced communities everywhere.  My heart has a sense of hope. I  can't help but think of the possibilities of those in the body of Christ playing a huge role in our community. (other communities as well) Huge does not necessary mean relocate, which I always wonder is that the reason why many shy away from urban church plants/ministries that have relocation as one of their missions. Maybe they feel the pressure or expectation of moving in?? Whatever the case is, our communities NEED them.

My prayer is that the Lord would transform under resourced communities through the many men and women who have such a wealth of resources. I'm so burdened by the lack of love and or concern many believers have shown to those who are in poor communities. My heart immediately goes to the sin of Sodom. Where many people say God destroyed  them due to  homosexuality, the bible says something different.

“‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy... -Ezk. 16:49

Oh, brothers and sisters. Something is seriously wrong with this picture. Where we tend to drift towards what's comfortable to us the bible is calling us to something different. Where we have the tendency to only be concerned about our little bubble, God is calling us to His Kingdom advancement. What a privilege it is for all of us to play a part in such a task. Why shy away from that? 

For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind...-Luke 14

I've sat and watched my husband many nights plead and cry out to many outside of our community  to invest in the lives of those in our community. Many times the cry is for short term, and many times the answer is, no reply or I simply don't have time. While those could be legitimate excuses, sometimes I wonder do many of us stop and simply take the time to wrestle with the Lord in whether or not this is something HE would want us to do.

In His book Return Flight Bob Lupton talks about the importance of people of many classes returning to the inner city. He also talks about those who believe they are not called to relocate and how they TOO may still play a huge part in what God is doing in the city. In an interview about his book, he made the following statement to this question:

What role can people who don’t live in the community play in this kind of strategy – people who don’t relocate but still feel a sense of call to be involved?

"Those are all the connected people who have abilities, networks and resources that are needed to turn a community around – real estate developers, bankers, attorneys – people who are in real estate and real estate-related professions are essential partners in the transformation of a community. They don’t have to live there, but if they’re willing to focus some of their attention, energy and investments on the identified community, it can make a huge difference – you can’t get along without them."    (emphasis mine)

I love that statement. It places all of us in the position to do something. I know life is busy, we all have so much going on (which is another issue), but should we be ok with that as an excuse? I think we should work towards things not being so busy or crazy, so that we are able to submit to the scriptures and love of those around us. My prayer is that we don't get comfortable with the temptation of becoming the priest or the Levite but we become more of the good Samaritan: (for God's glory)

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him...-Luke 10:13

I love how a fellow labor of mine put it as he was speaking in terms of mentoring inner city youth, I believe the same principal could apply to those of us who need to invest in other ways. He says, "involving yourself in the lives of others and using your resources you can open up doors for a child  that may otherwise be shut, Imagine if YOU never had parents that pushed you, had relationships with networks, or graduated from college or worked good jobs. I doubt we  would be where we are because we would be the exception not the rule"

How true.  

I know some of you don't want to return. But, may I encourage you to take some time to stop, and really wrestle with what all this means.  Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and pray about ways YOU can be apart of what the God of the universe is doing to rebuild  the city.

Oh ff