Refocusing on kingdom business
By keeping our focus on the cross, the kingdom and God’s word, we can avoid excessive polarization and anxiety, which lead to hurry-up responses, all-caps e-mails and, unfortunately, sometimes to character assassinations, hate mail and other ungodly tactics. Mature Christians have learned skills for deepening discussion. Patient prayerfulness and study are called for here, not rash and prideful pronouncements. Prayer and patience leave space in our lives for the word and the Holy Spirit to do their work.
In fact, this view from above will remind us that God has seen the church through many times of anxiety, challenge and change.
Peace comes from faith in God; anxiety is the result of focusing on earthly moments. Patiently and prayerfully, we must place our faith in God and cling to prayer, Bible study and other daily disciplines of faithful living. These disciplines never change.
Let us steadfastly refuse to be distracted from what the church is all about. Our communities are to be about this kingdom business. It is the simple, powerful Christian mission of the local congregation and our lives.
We offer these ideas for refocusing on our mission in anxious times.
• Love our neighbors. This is marvelous medicine for anxiety because it focuses our minds on the spirit of our Lord’s ministry, one person, one prayer at a time.
• Tell the story of Jesus. This refocuses us on the coherence of a larger story, unfolding since the dawn of creation and leading to the cross.
• Build biblical literacy in our families and communities. This shines the lamp of wisdom and truth into every home, workplace and congregation.
• Care for the poor and needy. This opens a perspective on kingdom work, not the distraction of church squabbles.
• Build congregations of spiritual depth and integrity. This surrounds us with companions for the journey and makes us resistant to anxiety.
The answers are not in finding the ideal congregation or fellowship. Finding the perfect argument to answer opponents will not result in peace of mind. Changing to keep up with a fad will not end the stress.
Rather, we daily must be about our Father’s business. This is the antitoxin to this age of anxiety and change. It is the balm of our Great Physician.
August 1, 2006