Monday, January 14, 2008

My Aching Unquenched Thirst

Today I discovered a friend had added The Shaping of Things to Come to his Facebook library. It's the amazing book that wrecked my life by opening my eyes and killing my ability to be satisfied with the "normal" Christianity when Christ offers and instructs us toward something much more. I'd like to say life's been rich, rewarding, and full of redemptive leaps forward since then; but so far it's been mostly painful. Painful because my heart has been awakened to love something that remains still far away. Painful because, like lovers separated, I am separated from experiencing significant aspects of Christ's kingdom by things that are out of my control. After five months in Arizona, still we lack connection with like-minded people with which to live in kingdom family and team while pursuing Christ's kingdom cause among and through us.

We've been praying mostly these days for God's leading on where to make our home here in Phoenix. We're so hungry to land in a community of need where God can use us as an incarnational presence of His life-giving love and light in this hurting, dark world. The practical implication is that whoever we partner with must either already live or be willing to relocate to a community of need. It's been tough finding partners for that vision... really tough.

We've done this small group thing on Fridays and a mens group on Sundays; and we've reached into several other social and ministry spheres in search of potential partners. What we've found is that most people, even people hungry for the kingdom, refuse to even consider the possibility of leaving their suburban home, downsizing, and moving into a community of need. The points of struggle seem particularly focused on 1) family safety and 2) the houses they own.

That last one is particularly poignant for some reason. People are really committed to their houses. They say things like "I'm right where I want to be." and "We really love the area." It sounds fine at first, but the unwillingness to even be open to God's call to leave all that for something else makes such personal agendas and material commitments appear idolatrous. Safety and houses. Fear and comfort. These are our gods now. Seeing it, saying it, crushes my heart. I hate it. I hate seeing that these same people, people I love, speak at the same time of a nagging unfulfilled desire to experience more of Christ. One sister put it plainly, "They're not hungry enough." It leaves me whispering prayers like, "Starve them Lord. Dry them up until they will do anything to have Your living water."

All of this sharpens my awareness that the initial team we partner with must be sold out to this radical kingdom cause. Radical people who are radically committed to Christ and each other and radically free from the trappings of this world. That's the community example that testifies to Christ's reality and can change the world both locally and beyond. If only I could will that into being! I long with tearful eyes and an aching heart for at least one or two others to join us in this vision. People who will pray for what community God wants to plant some of His people in to be seeds of redemption. I'm crying out, "Here am I Lord! Send me!" But still I wait... wanting... wanting kingdom community. Wanting Christ to be lived out among His people. Wanting to be His body practically again and not simply in name or ideology. I want it so bad it physically hurts.

"O God, please show us the place where You would have us go and unite us together with kingdom partners You've already chosen. May Your kingdom come... here on earth... through Your people!"


Revolutionary said...

John, good post, having been a suburban dweller for a decade or so, I too wrestle with how willing I am to live what I say, which I really hate about me. Hope you find a place soon.

Ordinary Radical said...

Hey the KNOW I am in if God is in for me. The trappings of suburban, lifeless tendencies will nto be an issue for is a matter of it being so far from us that we have a hard time even staying in the US period...but, we are praying and seeking...I believe in you guys and know that if God gives us the green light, we'll be on the next plane to AZ....

Ill try calling you tomorrow my brother.

Al said...

I'm right there with you brother. You put it all into words so well. I'm thankful we're in this together!!

John Lynch said...

I know, like you all, that willingness is hard for us sinners. It's a sacrifice of our self-will and a deference to God's will. It's a willingness to surrender to His will... a radical embracing of God's preeminent Godness at the expense of our own self-worshiping preeminence. It is the death to self Paul talks so much about (Gal 2:20; Rom 8:13; etc.). The experience of dying is never easy; and yet, resurrection life - the life that is "born again" - is so much more enjoyable!

Grant, great talk yesterday. Thanks for your fellowship, friendship, and love. We're with you in spirit... longing for our reunion with you and Christianne - whether here or in glory - as people of kindred spirit with whom we gain much, much joy. Thank you.

Aleta, I am overwhelmed by God's good gift to me of you as my wife. I couldn't have imagined or asked for a better partner. One with such same-heartedness from whom I draw so much encouragement and strength.