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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 about…
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.

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