Ahhhh, the summer. I think we would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't enjoy the slower pace of life. Getting away from the busyness of the normal routine; spending extra time with family and friends; eating breakfast out on the balcony; doing things we don't usually have time to do; sleeping in. For those of us in northern climates we enjoy the warmth (heat) of the summer, when we get to shed as much clothing as modestly possible, swimming, biking, hiking in the great outdoors. Many of us enjoy our BBQs and backyard parties. It is simply a wonderful, slower pace of life.
Unfortunately not everything takes a break. The bills still arrive according to their regular pace, illness still happens, bad things still come knocking on our door like heart attacks and cancer diagnoses. People still have car accidents, hearts get broken, emotions get messed up, depression and loneliness are still major factors in some people's lives and people still need Jesus.
We live in an age where more and more hearts are turning cold to the approach of Jesus. More ears have been stopped up by the enemy against the Good News. More people have decided to lean upon man's weak wisdom and dismiss any value in faith. As this happens we, the followers of Jesus, have retreated further into our own culture, almost hiding from the aggressive nature of the world. We have developed our own music industry, our own movies, our own social activities, our own great youth groups, bowling leagues, women's groups, men's groups, camping clubs, sports teams, and I can go on but wish I couldn't. Whatever the enemy comes up with we copy in the hopes to keep people from being attracted away from Jesus. We have become comfortable within our own self-made Christian culture and seldom venture into the frightening world of the unbeliever. We have forgotten Jesus' command to "go" and often look down on those who have obeyed.
We look down on the believer who has made the conscience decision to walk among the filth of this world, who goes with friends to bars, who attend concerts, who goes to movie theaters, who rubs shoulders with the lost. We who look down on them have become a bit like the Pharisees, looking down our noses, forgetting what Jesus did and where he hung out. Just because a person goes to a bar with his unsaved friends does not mean he is getting drunk. Just because he is at a concert with these friends does not mean he agrees with the lyrics. We have to be where the lost are if we hope to follow Jesus' commands. But these mighty warriors must be extra diligent.
Paul wrote to his young friend Timothy:
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:16)
Those who make an extra effort to minister where we should all be ministering need to be so completely lost in Jesus that they would be aware of every temptation that comes knocking. A double minded man cannot effectively minister in these places. A nominal believer will be totally swept up. Only those who are completely sold out for Jesus, who are constantly aware of their fragile state of faith, who fully understand their dependence on Jesus, is of any use in these places. These warriors must spend a lot of time in prayer and study so that they are supper sensitive to the Spirit and are completely submitted to his direction. A luke-warm Christian cannot use ministry as an excuse to enter these places of darkness. Only people who know what it is to watch their life, who know their weaknesses, who know how to avoid the things that would destroy them, and who know the Word well enough to use it as a sword should dare enter into these places. The rest of us should be in training in our relationship with Jesus to be able to do the same.
We have not been saved for our own pleasure; we have been saved to serve. Unfortunately we have misunderstood and have turned that service into building our own culture just as the Pharisees had done. We are not Israel, we are the Church, and Jesus' command to us was not to stay but to go. To stay is to our shame and if we are not of sufficient maturity to go, there is a major problem.
We are the warriors of Jesus which means that wherever we are this summer, whatever we are doing, God will open the doors of opportunity. The mission field is the beach we are relaxing on, the camp grounds we have retreated to, the bike trails we are adventuring on, the highways we are travelling, the back yard we share with our neighbours, the library we are visiting, the public pool we use. All of it is part of the command to go into the world. It may be the summer with a slower pace of life but the world still needs Jesus. Do not shut yourself off from that need.