I wrapped up a recent Ask Anything Monday that inspired me to go back to my AMA-styled blogposts. When I do these types of AMAs, I’m trying to do my best to steward a few of the amazing questions that came in on Instagram and Facebook. Sometimes, to continue the fun, I pull twelve or so more of those questions to mete out in the newsletter over the next four weeks!
After how you all enjoyed last week’s “AAM” style newsletter, I think we will stick with that “short and sweet” model going forward.
Without further ado, let’s look at these questions.
Moving where Christianity is widespread but legalism abounds. Thoughts on preparation?
First, I love that this person is thinking about preparation… how often do we move to a new city, a new area, a new street, without ever considering the spiritual state of it? One of my dear friends/mentors once said each city has a “spirit”, or spiritual idol, and you can tell the idol by the priorities of the community. As we went around the room, we shared what we thought the “idol” of our area was. Some from the American PNW said “health and food”. Some from the U.S. capitol said “success and influence”. I said: “the good life”. Because that’s why people move here, to the great white north. To escape. To hide from their troubles. But if you can’t hide from the trouble in your heart, what then? If the good life isn’t that good… where do you go?
It was a useful exercise, and I love that this question points to it as well. Because in areas of the U.S. (and world) there are vestiges of Christianity that aren’t true Christianity at all. And those are the hardest, in some ways, to reach because they know everything already. They say “Lord, Lord” but do not know Him (Matt. 7:22).
I want to reiterate what I feel like I’ve said a lot lately: Remember that legalistic Christians are baby Christians, no matter how long they’ve been in the faith (or think they are in the faith). Because they depend on rules, law, or bottle-fed spirituality, they never grow up into mature believers who can discern what is true on their own. They’ll often use over-simplistic explanations for sin (“The devil is after me” rather than an understanding of the flesh, Spirit-led life, how to walk in Christian identity). They may read their Bibles, but this is treated as a check list item rather than intimacy with God. The focus is outward, on God’s judgment or human opinion, rather than inward on intimacy with and transformation by Christ.
Knowing this, I would prepare in three ways:
- Pray. Pray over the city you’re moving to, pray over the church you’ll be in (even if you aren’t in one yet), and pray for your own heart and eyes to be open, wise, and sensitive to how God will use you in this place! I would pray specifically for discerning eyes, a heart of self control and wisdom, and for words fitting for the occasion.
- Learn the history. If possible, learn the history of the area. What people and church traditions settled it? What denominations have the predominant influence, and what do those believe? I really think some church history helps to understand how people develop spiritually the way they do.
- Practice hospitality. I say practice because… it takes repetition! Life on life discipleship is the best way to show people authentic faith. Unapologetically live your faith alongside others. And honestly, your deep, intimate, REAL faith in God will be compelling all on its own. To meet someone who follows Jesus not from fear, or law, or boredom, or societal expectation? That is the best shock in the world.