Currently many of my friends are joined by over 16,000 other students from around the globe at InterVaristy’s Urbana 2012. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, Urbana is a global missions conference held every three years that engages students in a multicultural setting on how to bring God’s kingdom here on the earth. I am so excited for the experiences they are having, and I cannot wait to hear about it from all of my sweet friends who are being met by God in some pretty cool ways.
Although I was unable to attend this year, I have been following along with the live feed (you should check it out!). God has already been challenging me as the speakers delve through the gospel of Luke. The first night Calisto Odede, a pastor from Kenya, spoke on Luke 4:16-30, when Jesus was rejected in Nazareth. Some of Calisto’s words really gripped me:
“Many of us would rather go to total strangers and share with them about our faith and Jesus Christ rather than turn to our friends, to our colleagues, and our family members where we are known. We’d rather keep quiet about Jesus Christ. Not so with Jesus. Well if you cannot share it with people who are nearby, you cannot share it with people far off. If it is not good enough for local consumption, it is not good enough for export!”
Woah. Prior to hearing this, I was putting away laundry while listening to the message. But then I stopped. Literally. I stood there, rewound the video, and let those words resonate. I felt convicted.
I have always struggled with this aspect of outreach. Even in my youth group, this was the common theme among us. We hated sharing the gospel with the people who knew us best. But Jesus, He knew this to be true. Verse 24 says “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in His hometown.” But that didn’t stop Jesus. He revealed Himself as Christ, as the fulfillment of all the prophecies. He told them what He had to tell, and He told them what they needed to hear.
Our excuses are always the same. “They’ll judge me” or “I’ll lose friends” or “They won’t care”. but honestly, when did it become okay to write our our friends’ need for a savior? They are just as broken as we are. Why would we want to keep them from true peace, from true joy?
Jesus was literally thrown out of His hometown for speaking truth, but He did not back down. He embodied the truest example of missional living: unadulterated selfless passion for people. And He calls us to do the same. To live dangerously. To live uncomfortably. To live missionally. What would it look like if we stopped caring about our image, and started caring about the image of God? What if we saw the value in what we are consuming from Him, and had the courage to export His truth?
This is what I’m praying over today.