Friday, July 16, 2010

Why Inside Out?

"Inside Out" is an important image for me in several dimensions of my life.

First, although I have a highly people-oriented role, I am somewhat on the introvert side of the introvert/extrovert scale. I am learning that this means I need to voice what I'm thinking about even while my views are still being formed. This allows my family, friends and those I work with to interact with my ideas early on rather than me announcing formed, firm ideas and leaving them wondering "Where did that come from?" I hope this "Inside Out" blog will help me speak "in draft mode" a little more, getting my inside thoughts out there so people can comment on them and be involved in the shaping of them.

"Inside Out" also captures the way I understand the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. Following Jesus for me is not about simply conforming to a whole bunch of external rules and regulations. That so easily leads to dead legalism. Rather, God seems to work by changing me from the inside out, renewing my motives, thoughts and desires. I think that is what Jesus was getting at in Matt 15:1-20. The problem isn't just our external behaviour, but our heart attitudes which lead to that behaviour. This is a key part of my sense of call to ministry. We can't give the ultimate help people need by addressing their outward behaviour. I believe we need Jesus to provide the inward heart change that makes us want to follow God's ways. Ezek 36:26

Related to this heart change is the surprising way Jesus turns my thinking inside out and upside down. Consider his sayings like: "The first will be last and the last first." or "Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Jesus so often turns my thinking around.

"Inside Out" also describes my sense of a church active in God's mission. Of course some of the life of a church is focused inward on its members. The members of a church must pastorally care for one another and build each other up to maturity in Christ (Eph 4 stuff). The church gathers at least weekly for public worship. But all this quickly becomes stagnant and boring if it is cut off from what God is doing in the wider world. I believe Christians must overflow with the love of God out to people who don't yet know about Jesus. This inside out mission appears as glimpses of God's kingdom here and there. It might be acts of loving service to people in need, working alongside people to see their communities develop. It might be Christians telling someone about the new life they have discovered in Christ, so they also can come to know forgiveness for sin and new life. It might be seeing an injustice put right, or someone healed, or people set free from evil spirits that had been troubling them. It could be an act of caring for this beautiful planet God has made... These things demonstrate that Jesus is Lord and King, not just inside the church, but also when the church goes out to their workplaces, schools and neighbourhoods.

Looking forward to sharing "inside out" thoughts with you, and reading your comments,



Anonymous said...

I think this will be very helpful Martin. (Sue)

Sophie said...

wonderful children? i agree!! awesome dad - looking forward to reading more :)

Anonymous said...

Really liked your comments on what it means to be The Church Martin...totally agree. look forward to reading more "draft thoughts"

Cate Burton said...

If this had a 'like' button I'd click it. Good work Martin! I like the whole 'inside out, upside down' thing. nice