Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
How many of you like a challenge? And if you like a challenge, how much of a challenge do you want? I mean, do you want to be challenged in small ways, like solving word puzzles or completing a small fitness goal? Or would you like a big challenge, one that causes you to rework your life on a regular basis? My guess is that most of us fall in the small to medium challenge range. I like to learn, so I read a lot, listen to podcasts, and watch documentaries. All of this learning certainly shifts my thinking and gives me new tools and resources, but it doesn’t usually mean a seismic shift in my daily life.
Parents know that we generally work to constantly challenge our kids. We encourage them from day one to try new things. At first those new things are foods, words, and steps. As they grow we challenge our kids to try new skills, sports, and hobbies. Later, we encourage our Pre-teens and teens to find new groups, clubs, and friends. We seem to innately understand that these challenges help our children grow and expand their life in various positive ways. But we adults like to sort of find our groove, and stay there. We no longer really want much of a challenge. Why is that? Because it’s easy, of course. It's comfortable. Familiarity and sameness provide stability, and allow us to deal with everyday life challenges without having to navigate new people and scenarios all the time.
I get it. It’s really a good thing to develop some sense of sameness in our lives, especially if our particular phase of life is extra challenging (having young children, starting new work, caring for a loved one, etc.). And at the same time, I know we were meant to live a life of growth. In the above verses, you see just a few examples of the challenge we have to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the rest of the world. And you can’t share Christ with others, if the only people you associate with are like-minded Christians. You also won’t grow in your own faith, if you spend all your time with people who believe exactly the same as you.
Yes, we are meant to find other Christ-followers, come together regularly (in person or virtually), and learn and worship together. We build each other up in this way, and we fall more in love with God as we do so. But all of this is not meant for our comfort, its meant to equip us to go out into the world and share Jesus with others. So, maybe its time you seek not just the comfort of people who generally look like you, think like you and believe like you. Perhaps it is time to expand your groups, experiences, and friendships. Challenge yourself. Find someone different from you and have real conversations, allow for disagreement, learn from each other, and grow. You will be better for it, your faith will grow and deepen, and perhaps, you will share Christ with someone simply by loving them, despite your differences.
How averse are you to change and challenges? What is one way you can challenge your faith to grow? In what ways will you search for new relationships scenarios that might challenge your mind, heart and soul?
Creator of all, remind us of the beauty found in variation. Open our eyes and ears to see and hear those who seem different and foreign to us. Guide us with your Spirit to grow in our heart, soul, and mind. God you are big enough for disagreements, other ways of thinking, and challenges. So give us courage to try new things, meet new people, and listen to new ideas. Help us not remain in the comfort of our church family all the time, but rather find hope, love, and mercy amongst our people that will empower us to go out and share the same with others. You call us to go, Lord, and we accept the challenge. Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.