Say “Yes” to the Mess (or Don’t Outsource Your Mission)

Isn’t it weird how different people can look at the same situation and have completely opposite reactions?
Most people who look at a raging housefire pull away in panic but firefighters grab their gear and charge in.
Drivers passing a major accident may gawk out of curiosity but couldn’t imagine being the first responders trying to extricate injured children from mangled vehicles.
People tell me all the time they couldn’t do the work I do going into homes of families in crisis and trying to work out an action plan for addressing their needs but I love it.
However, if you asked me to plan an event like a fundraiser or a charity dinner, I curl up into a fetal ball and suck my thumb. I wouldn’t have the first idea how to begin and I’d be a nervous wreck throughout.
The house I live in would inspire most people to hire a wrecking ball but my husband sees a do-able project with amazing potential. (I’m working very hard to see through my husband’s eyes.)
I might write a Christmas play just for fun but ask me to design the set or to sew costumes and you’d be mighty disappointed in the results.
My husband found curtains for our bedroom at a second-hand shop but they were eight inches too short. I saw a mistake but my creative mother saw a sewing challenge and pulled off what I thought was impossible. She also loves going into professional offices that have been mismanaged and are in utter disarray and organizing them back to profitability and efficiency. Go figure!
As I’ve listened to the gospel of Luke this week, I’m struck by one thing: whereever the people of Israel saw an impossible mess, Jesus saw His mission.
Imagine these situations showing up at our churches today and what our reactions might be:
A demon-possessed man living naked and homeless for years.
A woman shunned by everyone for a bleeding condition no physician can heal.
A father with a son possessed by demons, the child throwing himself on the ground and foaming at the mouth.
Pressing crowds of people infested with every kind of disease.
Multitudes of hungry mouths.
A congress of self-righteous religious leaders who think they have it all together. (This may be the most frightening mess of all!)
Any one of these situations would inspire most of us to run in the other direction (or look around for the first paid church staff person we could find.)
In fact, I think if these people walked into our churches, we’d immediately outsource them to “more appropriate agencies” for mental health services or medical treatment or food stamps, right?
These were some messy people in frighteningly messy circumstances. But in every single situation, Jesus said “yes” to the mess.
This is why He came.
 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
                    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19
He said yes where everyone else said no.
He came to do the impossible, to call people to repentance, to face rejection, to suffer, and then to die. He came to have victory over death and hell.
If we follow Jesus, shouldn’t we be saying yes where everyone else says no?
Shouldn’t we attempt the impossible, call people to repentance, face rejection, suffer, and die.
Shouldn’t be we living out Jesus’ victory over death and hell?
We underestimate the power we’ve inherited from our Father through Jesus by the gift of the Holy Spirit. God brings order out of chaos and His children are empowered to do likewise.
The business of the church, loved ones, is to say “YES” to the mess.
We should be walking in where no one else will go.
We should be assaulting deception with truth.
 We should be calling a Pharisee a Pharisee.
 We should be touching wounds, freeing those imprisoned by demons, and taking on impossibly needy crowds, and doing it all in the power and the name of Jesus Christ.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan is not a nice story – it’s a challenge, it’s a gauntlet, it’s the command of our Lord to go out of our way, to leave our comfort zone, to love sacrificially and without thought of return – not just in theory but in practical get-your-hands-covered-with-dirt-blood-and-guts ways.
Are you outsourcing Jesus’ call on your life?
Are you turning away from the messy business of other people’s impossible problems?
 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.” Luke 11:42
Are you leaving the former undone?
You don’t even have to leave your hometown to put Jesus’ example into practice, loved ones. I promise you there’s a mess nearby.
Say “yes” to the mess and you have moved forward with the work of building the Kingdom of God.
How do you say “yes” to the mess? It would encourage others to have concrete examples in the comments you leave. I’ll tell you a secret – I’m terrified every time I walk into a new home and most times I wouldn’t go except I know Jesus goes with me. 

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    The Conversation

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thinking that God has me retired from my usual office manager positions, I have a strong feeling He has something else for me to do–a mess to clean. So I’ve volunteered to become a mentor to a middle-school child. I pray I’ll be able to be of help to the child selected for me. As a woman of God, I will look for opportunities to take Christ with me, knowing the authorities won’t approve of the mention of His name. So I must live His message instead of proclaiming it. MOMMA

  2. The BearPair says:

    Good thoughts, Lori… and as always, pricking us where we may not want to be poked! You’re so right, especially when it comes to try to pass off the “mess” to the “professionals” when between our attitude and the Holy Spirit, we can do it!

  3. A colleague here in Germany recently shared a challenge she received from a YL worker. “Are you loving students so that they will come to Jesus? If so, then you’re in the wrong place….Or are you loving them because Jesus loves them? If you love people with an agenda, then there will come a time when you will give up on them. If you love them because Jesus loves them, then it is by His power that you will love them.”