Challenge

I had the most curious chat with my wife Jude this morning. It seems that we have both been feeling similar in the last few days. We discovered this over a cup of tea in the garden, which is one of life’s rare pleasures. Our life in the UK is fairly well developed. We have friends, places that we know, things that we do and everything else that would ‘constitute’ a normal life. Being back home in the UK recently, really hammered this home to us. 

Coming back to Zambia has felt a little bit like we are the outsiders again. It is hard to explain, but through social contact, humour and a different pattern of life, we know that Southern Africa is not our ‘home’, or in other words, the place where you feel most relaxed. It is the little things that get to you. A visit to the bank that yields nothing, a cultural problem in the villages for example, all underline this fact that you are a foreigner.

We find it at church. Yes we believe the same things as everyone else, but we find it very hard to be culturally on the same level. That isn’t to say that we do not know people, we do, it is simply different. It is very hard to be close to people. That takes time, whole lifetimes to develop.

Saying all of that however, we are also confronted with what we are here to do. It is far reaching, difficult to achieve and in some ways revolutionary. I saw that yesterday during some time meeting up with a couple of teams not far from where we stay. Two small teams have gathered some individuals together and have started in their village community. They have faced a lot of opposition with church leaders actively attacking them. Why? because they are trying to bring some individuals together to make a difference. That’s all! Hardly a crime is it? They need input from me, they need leadership and that’s why we are here.

I know that what we are doing is what the Lord wants, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t struggle with it sometimes. I do feel torn sometimes between a life full of service to me, that is easier, more comfortable and a life that is full of sacrifice and God. It’s a choice between having a life that doesn’t honour God and a life that does. That really spoke to me in the UK, many of us are Christians, but our lives, usually because of busy careers are not in a position to honour God. 

Imagine if those in Bahrain, Libya, Yemen or even Egypt were too busy to protest, or decided to keep their lives to themselves. Regimes would never be changed and oppression would continue. The fact of the matter is that there are millions of people who are oppressed. They are oppressed spiritually, the bible says they are in darkness. They are oppressed practically. Those in the bush here are oppressed by poverty, people in the UK are no less oppressed, they are oppressed by the trappings of wealth. 

A thought here, maybe God uses the poor because they are more available than the rich? Yes we can be used in our place of work, and that is important, but with our family and ‘our’ time, we are simply not interested. God is not God of our lives, simply any spare time we happen to offer Him  Too busy to honour God, now that’s a thought…… Thinking about it I’d hate to be in that position.

I spoke today to a group in Mwinilunga, who are some 13 hours drive from me. They came to a conference we held last July. They have gathered people and have begun to meet centrally in the BOMA (a throwback to colonialism, British Overseas Mission Authority – means town centre). They are at the beginning of what I hope will be a great journey for them. Whatever the cost, it is God moving in their lives that is the pay off. Having spent time in the UK, which is a country full of spiritual selfishness, ie. what does God have for me, I see that we must constantly put that to the sword to enable us to take hold on behalf of others, what the Lord has for them.

It is one thing to take hold of what God has for you, but it is the example of Jesus to take hold of what God has for other people, sacrificing yourself and giving it to them. Those words challenge me, I hope they challenge you also. If they don’t, maybe you are more spiritually introspective and oppressed than you think…

3 thoughts on “Challenge

  1. Thank-you Jon. May be God uses you to keep some of us whom you do not think you are working with in touch with other parts of His family. Challenging thoughts

  2. Hi Jon and Jude
    Really sorry I didnt get to see you both when you were here – really busy with work!!!!!
    I get what you are saying in this blog but I don’t agree! Being busy with my job is what challenges me in how to honour God. Today I really let Him down by totally letting rip at a colleague whose behaviour is, by common consensus, awful. So I was justified in my criticism but definitely NOT what Jesus would have done.
    I am constantly challenged about what it really means to be a Christian at work and even though I get paid well, right now it is a huge sacrifice – I could be having a lovely time with church people and going to coffee dates and the gym! Instead I have to work with people who I plain dont like but have to somehow love…. and I have to stand for truth, which is not always easy to decipher. And I have to somehow focus on what is good and pure and noble to influence those around me.
    In a way its just like how you feel – like you dont really fit in. Cultural barriers are everywhere. Its how you handle them that counts. Today I bombed! Still theres always tomorrow…
    Praying for you and the kids
    Nicky

  3. Hi Nicky,

    Great to hear from you. Sorry we didn’t get to see you as well. Mayv next time

    I can go with you some way in your disagreement. 🙂 I don’t think I was meaning to say that if you have a busy job you are somehow not serving God. After all how woulld God affect all of those people and situations if Christians were not involved. So in that sense i agree.

    I think the problem can arise when we are motivated inwardly by success, money, security and the like. They are very powerful pulls on our lives, and if we are all honest, they play fluctuating parts in our motivation. It is very possible to be godly and active for Him in a typical UK career, I just think it’s difficult.

    A lot of people would deceive themselves that they are serving God but they are in fact serving themselves. Maybe the litmus test is what is our reaction if those things are taken away?

    I guess that in my time back in the UK, I was quite dismayed at how many people I know of, give themselves to the gods of this age, and then once pursuing those life aims, cover it with a bit of Christian service.

    I guess it’s the direction that counts in whatever situation you find yourself in. So you could be a banker and serving God truly for example. I fear though that our message in the UK is sometimes a little self indulgent and the danger is to substitute a form of serving god, giving him our spare time, rather than give him all of our time, whatever position we find ourselves .

    In that I think the poor can be at an advantage, once they clearly see, they give themselves I think more than us richer people. The problem is helping them to see truly in the first place. Poverty, hopelessness are like a spiritual blanket that cloud the senses of what can be. Likewise for us, the very places that God places us can suck us away from his purpose if we are not careful. More often than not, I’ve observed this manifests itself in how we spend our time.

    Long answer! Take care Jon

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