Pain is an invitation.
Personal pain is an invitation from God to discover more about ourselves and more about our Father. When people share their pain with you, it’s an invitation to know them and show them who our Father is.
Love enters into other’s pain and mess. As Jesus demonstrated through the Parable of the Good Samaritan, religious culture has issues with pain. Religion works hard to cover pain and problems because they’re considered shameful (John 9:2). Therefore, religious people avoid people with pain and problems (Job 30:9-10, 24). When they see pain, they cross by on the other side of the street (Luke 10:31-32). They are not sure what to do with it, so they steer clear.
Instead of letting love guide them toward pain, the religious let fear drive them to stand at a distance. Instead of attempting empathy, they offer quick-fixes. Listening is replaced with cheap sentiment, Band-Aid “Christian” answers, and an offer to pray for them. They shirk the responsibility to comfort (Job 16:2-3; 42:7).
Standing at a distance, religion misses the invitation to dive into the pain in someone’s heart with them and discover the God who is in that space. The religious mind doesn’t understand that Jesus deals primarily in pain and problems. In its avoidance of pain, religion avoids Jesus.
Pain is an invitation.
When you have been loved by Jesus in the middle of your pain, and pulled out by His hand in the middle of your sin, you can’t help but go to others who are stuck there now. You’re not afraid to go there with others when you’ve gone there with Jesus yourself.
Nothing has ever been accomplished through avoidance, and a lecture has never changed a heart.
Love covers a multitude of sins. Love can move mountains. Accept the invitation into pain, and you’ll discover Love.
The religious spirit of this city stands in opposition to the advancement of the Gospel, and thus stands in opposition to the mission of Ignition Church. But I am not a afraid of opposition. I am not afraid of tension. Nothing of significance has ever been accomplished without pressing through tension and overcoming opposition.
Some would say I’m too passionate and I’m too aggressive. That I should be more patient and less confrontational. But I cannot be silent, and my passion cannot be contained. I believe Jesus came to us, gave His life in place of us, rose for us, and lives in us – this message and the reconciliation it brings is the cure for all that is wrong in the world.
Therefore, I cannot be silent.
Over 80% of my city remains disconnected from Christ and His church and I am not okay with that. I don’t think Jesus is okay with that. And I don’t want those under my leadership to be okay with that. Therefore, I will lead us to boldly share the love of Christ for all humanity. To share what He has done in our lives, what He is doing in our church, and what He longs to do in the heart of every person.
This life is not a popularity contest and anyone enthroned on the opinion of others will be tossed back and forth by the ever-changing minds of men.
We are not interested in pleasing people.
We are not interested in conforming.
We are not interested in sleeping through this life.
We have been arrested by the glory of God. We have tasted the truth. We know who we are. We are fully alive. We are completely free. We have a voice and a calling from our King to speak. We are not just saved. We are sent.
We have been chosen to be salt and light in a decaying and dark world. So, we will not sit content behind stained glass windows while the world goes to hell around us. We will march into the mess and midnight of people’s lives, bringing the dawn of Hope.
We have been created to live forever so we will not prioritize our temporary comfort over someone’s everlasting despair. We will choose what matters for eternity over what lasts for a moment.
Because of Jesus, we have no anxiety over the past and no apprehension of the future. We will not let fear drive our present.
Jesus was a rebel for love. We are His legend and His people. So we will love. We will share His Gospel, and make Him known to a city that so desperately needs him.
Many times I feel helpless.
Like I’m spinning my tires, not affecting anything or anyone around me. Like I’m getting beat as the leader of Ignition. Beat by the religious, by the enemy, by the disinterested in this city. I often feel like the opposition is winning. That it doesn’t matter how hard I work or try – I can’t make it happen. That if people don’t want to reach out or don’t care to come there’s nothing I can do about that. After 18 months, it’s hard not to feel like the message has been sent from this city: “Go away. Shut your doors. We don’t want your kind here.”
I know that’s not good for our city. Knoxville needs us. It needs disciples of Jesus – people who love selflessly and give generously. And above that our city needs Jesus. They’re longing for Him. But since they don’t know the gospel of grace, they only know the religion of behavior, they don’t know it’s Him they need.
The truth is, I can’t defeat this enemy. Only God can. Only He can do the work in people’s hearts that is necessary to generate a movement of the gospel. A movement of God’s Spirit is exactly that – a work of God on behalf of men, not an initiative of man for God. It begins with His Spirit, runs on His Spirit, and the results are determined by His Spirit.
So we must pray.
I refer to prayer as “rule zero.” Implying that it’s understood that preceding and surrounding everything we do as a church is prayer. It’s not, “All we can do is pray.” Because we must do more than pray – we must share. But all we do will amount to nothing if we don’t pray. So we pray.
And as we pray God lifts our perspective to see in spite of the opposition we face – He is for us. And that the opposition is a sign that He is with us and the we are attempting to accomplish something significant. If it was easy to reach a city, everyone would do it, and it wouldn’t be valuable.
What Ignition does matters. What you do as a part of Ignition matters. So don’t stop.
Don’t stop praying. Don’t stop sharing.
The breakthrough is coming. Our God is for us. This city needs us.