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Do you have an off switch?

World Racer Ian Schumann is in Uganda this month. Here, he has some good insight into the contrast between American culture, African culture, and Jesus’ culture. Do we get to decide when we’re available for ministry? Do we get to say “no” to people when we’re tired? In America, the answe…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
World Racer Ian Schumann is in Uganda this month. Here,
he has some good insight into the contrast between American culture,
African culture, and Jesus’ culture. Do we get to decide when we’re
available for ministry? Do we get to say “no” to people when we’re
tired? In America, the answer is “of course you need margins in
life.”
 
But
the answer in Africa is different seems to more closely resemble Jesus’
answer. Schumann looks at Luke 9:10: “On their return the apostles
told Him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to
a town called Bethsaida. When the crowds learned it, they followed Him,
and He welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured
those who had need of healing.” Ian writes:

K,
this is nuts, is it not? Jesus’s most cherished disciples just dropped
their training wheels. So, isn’t the guy itching to hear their stories
and affirm them and rest in Bethsaida? And then this crowd crashes the
weekend retreat, like so many paparazzi, or African children . . . and
what does He do? He welcomes them. He teaches them. He heals them. And
if you don’t know this part–He feeds all of them too.

This would never, ever, ever happen in America.

And
it would never have to. We don’t let the crowds in. Nobody even feels
bad about keeping them out, right? Come on, if you’re facilitating the
Bethsaida debrief, the apostles need time, they need space–just chill,
pray, chat, worship for a few days. Watch some futbol. “Off” time. So
they can be “on” again later. Right? Sounds reasonable to me. It’s what
we do in America, anyway. It’s what we do on the Race, anyway.

Which
is exactly why this is so hard. Because Africa doesn’t operate that
way. And evidently–this is really important–neither does Jesus. He’s
open and receptive. He’s always on. Always ready to welcome people and
pay attention to them and minister to them. It’s astounding.

Now,
Jesus rested too, for sure. Even the Lord of the Sabbath needs
sabbatical time. He’s always running up on mountaintops to pray. Half
the time the apostles can’t even find the guy. But what’s key here is
when they do find Him, hidden away in a high place . . . He always
welcomes and engages them. Always.

And
that’s because there is no “on” for Jesus–ministry is just the natural
consequence of who He is–it was a part of Him. And the fullness of
that is beyond me.
So,
my “on” has been sharpened a lot. Hooray. I’ve been loving on orphans
and evangelizing in grass huts and preaching in African churches. And I
really am starting to mean it, most of the time. But my “off” is still
off. It’s still just me and all my narcissism–not giving, not serving,
not loving. And so there’s a funny contrast. When I’m just myself,
frustration and narcissism happen. When Jesus is just himself, um . . .
the Gospel of Luke happens.

And because there’s no space for “off” in Africa, it’s all quietly starting to hit the fan over here.

In all this, I hear God’s saying “Great, you’ve grown in what you do–now let’s grow in what you are.”

And this is what I mean by the stakes being raised. This part’s scary.

Comments (2)

  • My off switch is most commonly used when I just dont feel like doing what the LORD is saying,burying stuff only to have it fester later.Letting people walk on me until I blow up.Hence tonight.The LORD sent me to this guy in are church whos been struggling to stay off heroin to deal with an offense.Im just starting to realize Im not helping my brothers and sisters when I dont call them on thier stuff.The LORD has been telling me lately in worship to stand.Im hoping my on off switch becomes a 3-way switch that is only controlled by the father son and holy spirit.

  • The difference between who you are what you do – that’s an immense one. Ian is right. Jesus seemed to do what He did out of Who He was. We often do what we do in order to be what we think we are. The identity label of evangelist, world racer, worship leader, pastor etc. Hence the switch off. You can’t keep that kind of pace up if your works give you your identity. The truth outs the minute you stop and the “frustration and narcissism” of just being ourselves rises back up.

    I guess that is why Jesus called us to be children of God, not workers of God. Kids first, full of family DNA. His works flowed out of His identity and for some reason that’s a really tough one for us to get. But yeah, bring it on! It’s the essence of becoming like Jesus.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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