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Refocusing on kingdom business

High general anxiety is one of the toxins with which we live in this present age, like some vague, threatening cloud. If you are reading the books, blogs and e-mail chains in our fellowship or broader community, it is easy for these negative feelings to nag at your focus. We live in an in-your-face era when seeking common ground is disreputable. The horizon seems dotted by troubles that demand immediate action. Anxiety drains us of energy and focus. In times like these, it is easy to be distracted from what the church is all about. One source of anxiety for many is the news of the recent North American Christian Convention in Louisville, Ky., the annual lectureship series of the Christian Churches in the U.S. Some see no common ground and are vehemently against discussions of closer relations with these churches and believers. Some are ready to rally forces against it. Others don’t know what to make of it. Some believe it is imperative that Christians seek unity in this way and have lost patience with questions about the process.
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

Filed under: Editorial Staff Reports

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