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You have to go out to go in

“He brought us out from there to bring us in.”  Deuteronomy 6:23   We’re having a staff conference at the office this week.  I spoke to them yesterday afternoon about this idea of God leading us out in order to bring us in.  I’ve discovered some interesting things abou…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
“He brought us out from there to bring us in.”  Deuteronomy 6:23
We’re having a staff conference at the office this week.  I spoke to them yesterday afternoon about this idea of God leading us out in order to bring us in.  I’ve discovered some interesting things about the kingdom lately.  Really, the reason we do short-term missions is to give people an experiential understanding of the kingdom.
We take them out of their comfort zones and show them a world of throbbing pain where the second coming of Jesus is not eschatology, it’s them!  They’re Jesus with skin on.  It’s the magic of incarnation all over again. We love the Christmas season because of the incarnation.  But when you’re born again, it’s Christmas wherever you go.  Jesus puts you on like a glove and touches people.
On a short-term mission trip you learn that God is an inside guy. Inside his kingdom is life everlasting. There’s a perpetual party going on just inside the gates. He has extended us an invitation to join him inside (check out Matt. 22). We get to hang out with the poor in spirit there – those shunted to the side by a society that is moving too fast.

The peculiar brand of faith espoused by American Christians envisions an easy, seamless transition from your place to his. The problem is that you have to leave your place to get to his. Like the children of Israel, you have to go out to go in.
Whenever God has looked for a leader to bring his people back, he always takes that leader out before he brings him in. Abraham had to go out from Ur; Moses spent the best years of his life in the wilderness; Joseph had to go out from his family; Paul had to go out to Arabia. Even Jesus had to go out, leaving his father’s side to bring us in.
When Jesus wanted to bring his disciples in, he had to call them out. And always when he ran across someone who wanted to know the price of admission to come in, Jesus’ response was that they had to go out to go in. The rich young ruler had to sell his belongings and leave his easy lifestyle. Whatever the things that represented a current comfort zone, they had to stay behind.
God called me out from the comfort of a world I could control before he called me to walk in the mystery of sonship. I spent five years dying before I began to learn how to live. I was fired from the organization I helped start, Karen was pregnant with Leah, and we had no insurance.
It’s a process as old as mankind. Adolescent boys have to be initiated from the carefree world of childhood into the rough and tumble world of men. They have to go out to go in.
It’s a shift of relationships, a shift of perceptions, a shift of loyalties. It doesn’t happen naturally, it has to be forced. The red pill has to be swallowed, the pain of transformation endured.
We live in a nation of uninitiated Christians, “let me go and bury my father,” we say, “Let me be a revolutionary on the cheap. Let me keep a foot in both camps.”
But Jesus didn’t give margin for that. He left the bet-hedgers and half-steppers behind. His method was to kill your old self before he gave you a new self. Death had to come before life. There’s no reversing the order, no escaping the desert. The ego props and security blankets have to go. Part way out is not an option. “Put off the old self,” we’re told.
The old self carries with it the baggage of limited resources, limited possibilities, and a limited worldview. These have no place in a kingdom without limits. To enter an expansive place like that you’ve got to leave the land of small closets and empty wallets behind.

Comments (10)

  • What about when you have to go out more than once? Is it normal to go out, come in, and forget some stuff and have to go back out again…and come in again?

    And I know that we’re not supposed to be fence-riders, but is it okay to find a happy medium between the out and the in? Like when you have these ideals, but you also have to reconcile it with real life and paying bills and taking care of your family. How do we stay in the “out” mentality and still be fully present in the “in?”

  • St. Mark of the Cross

    The paradox of God – you want to live – die! You want to be and have kingdom life – then give up your own kingdom(shallow as it is). A kingdom now made with human hands, but hands of our Savior Jesus Christ, living through us to touch creation.

    I love this kingdom life, it is not an idea of utopia,rather it is Jesus himself manifesting in his chosen beloved bride – making herself ready! Say yes Lord, we are ready to be a part of your glory as it covers the seas!

  • I think it was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said when Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die. And as Calvin Miller wrote in The Singer, “ever does the self die hard. It screams and begs in pity not to go.”

    But who wants to die? Be honest! Who does? I think that’s why Jesus added that crucial word to His call. “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24) The crucial word is daily.

    Jen, I think there is a normal coming in and going out. Life goes in seasons, days go in pieces. Doesn’t take long to lose the plot there for even just part of a day. At least it doesn’t if you’re me! The crucial word is daily. I made one promise to God and that was that I will always keep coming back no matter what. That one I can keep. All my others lie broken around my feet. Reckoning yourself dead often means it takes time to die, one day at a time. I hate it too! But if I die, I will live.

  • Ironic post! I was thinking about short-term missions this morning regarding some of the damage they do to some cultures because the focus is more on those engaging in the missions outreach. I’m always trying to balance that out.

    Then on the way to the computer lab I’m in right now I was thinking about how I need a haircut. I thought, I remember when I tried to give myself a haircut but started before I made sure I had all the correct guards I needed etc. Sure enough I ended up with a ridiculous haircut and a lot of humorous turmoil in my high school.

    I immediately thought of Jesus’ parables of discipleship. “If you are building a building… measure what you will need” “If you are going to war… measure what you will need” “If you are going to give yourself a haircut measure what you will need”

    Regarding one of the purposes of short term missions as “going out so we can come in” reminds me of a group called the Psalters. The thesis of their group is a parable of leprosy. The disease does not necessitate infection or gangrene. The disease causes nerves not to function properly and no pain is felt. If a cut or anything occurs, it will fester and become infected causing the need for amputation.

    This is the disease of American Christianity. There is pain all over the world, even Christ’s body and we are numb to it. Only by FEELING THE PAIN can we wake up to the true needs around us.

    Just some thoughts.

  • I think “going out” can become part of your daily walk. I think going out may be just stepping out of your comfort. Going on an STM teaches you how to do that and the vital importance of doing that.

  • incredible insight…the kind that resonated with me deeply as i read it yet inspires even deeper thought & reflection. a true “life message” from title to message to teaching to the revelation it unearths.

    your last three incredibly anointed messages weave a beautiful story of the redemption of our brokenness and loss thru our One And Only.

  • I’m feeling your message. Look at this alternate scenario. When we choose to build a lifelong relationship with a young lady, what do we have to do? We have to take her out. Yep… over and over again, we take her out. Why? Because we want to know more about her. How does she think? How does she react? What makes her tick? What motivates her? What inspires her? I think in this sense, which is an alternate sense, God takes us out so that He can build a relationship with us, get to know us and then wham He seeks a lifelong commitment from us.
    That’s the alternate scenario, but the real message is in the words that you wrote Seth…We are called to die to self and live for Christ… Sometimes it really hurts to get taken out…ouch!

  • Seth, I appreciate this blog so much. I would be very interested in hearing your story, and how you knew it was time to go “out”. My heart is being tugged in that direction, too, but I have so many questions. I know God is faithful and I know He will guide me if I answer His calling. But that’s the hard part, isn’t it? Not just the hearing of His voicethough we make that needlessly difficultbut then the doing of what He tells us to. In any case, thanks for sharing and giving me hope.

  • “I spent five year dying before I began to learn how to live”
    resonates so deeply with me…on multiple levels.

    just a thought…in order for a tree to grow, a previous seed had to die.

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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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