“Dorothy, we’re not in…”

“Dorothy, we’re not in Chick-fil-a anymore.”

That’s not quite the line as exactly spoken in context, but this is a reference to The Wizard of Oz, in which Dorothy, upon arriving to Oz, says,“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”  

So what did it mean to not be in Kansas anymore? To no longer be in a place that one knows or where one is comfortable; to be in a completely unfamiliar and/or discomfiting environment. As Christians, it begins to feel that way more and more, doesn’t it, that we truly are alien to the environments in which we are placed and the culture in which we exist. This world looks increasing “not our own” and often not to our liking. But we are here and will be until death or Jesus moves us. Friend, don’t be grim about that!

Many people, a lot of them Christians, like the environment of Chick-fil-a. We patronize Chick-fil-a for a few good reasons, don’t we? We respect that the owners honor a day of rest and afford their employees the opportunity to attend their place of worship. We tend to want to support that philosophy. The employees are nice and courteous. Fresh looking kids for the most part. A good starting work environment for teens, right, with pretty good pay? Friendly. Polite. You can pretty much bank on the fact that much of the clientele are Christians and the place will be “family” friendly. The background music is Christian instrumentals and yes, the food is relatively healthy and reasonably tasty. A safe harbor of sorts. Not heaven yet!

As Christians, however, we are called to step out of the “womb” of our Chick-fil-a worlds, out of our “home-school” environments, out of our strictly “Christian” webs of relationships and engage this messy world we temporarily live in. We are instructed by scripture that we are“in” the world but not to be “of” the world, conforming to its image but rather being transformed into the image of Jesus, our Redeemer. We must never lose sight of the fact that He is always with us as we venture out, as we bring His light into the darkness, advancing Hiskingdom. And we must remember that Christ set aside the glamour and security of heaven for the purpose of walking dirty, sin-saturated streets and touching as well as being touched by the worst the world had to offer, serving them so that they too might know God’s love and favor for them. Certainly heaven is a step above Chick-fil-a!

The comfort zones we create are necessary respites from the stress and challenges the world presents, but they are not meant to become fortresses which insulate us from contact with the world. If that was Jesus’ model, he would have stayed in heaven and let us run loose, all the way to hell. If that was the mindset of the apostle Paul, I wouldn’t be writing this note and you would be doing something less profitable than reading it. Too often we are accused (and guilty as charged) of living in an insulated bubble. Jesus in you and me is eager to be the “bubble popper.”

The point is, and we all know it to be true, is that there is no other plan than the one Jesus commanded (not suggested) for all who claim to be followers of His. Go (and it may just be next door), introduce others everywhere to the gospel, graciously explaining that sin and self-serving are perilous roads, let them know there is a God who loves them immensely even in their present condition, that both God and heaven are real and that life lived under the authority and protection of God is more fulfilling and full of adventure than they can ever imagine! And especially meaningful, bowing one’s heart to Jesus guarantees His companionship, His presence from that moment to forever.This is no small truth, because we often need a motivational Holy Spirit nudge and a little borrowed courage to engage others not like ourselves.

Where do we start? We don’t have to save the world, Jesus already did. We are in the “advertising end” of the business. Finding someone somewhere to serve is a great start. Taking time to help someone with their need, however small, is an act of kindness (and perhaps sacrifice) that just may open the door to faith conversations. Hey, how rare is it for someone to go out of their way unnecessarily to care for someone else’s needs? Pray about opportunities, asking God to open doors for you. Then open your eyes and ears to the possibilities He provides. If you thought about if for a few minutes, there is probably someone you already know that would appreciate a pleasant surprise. That surprise is you. Imagine that! Jesus all wrapped up, camouflaged in you! Start taking those little “faith-stretching risks” and give some of yourself away.Think About It.  

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