It might seem intuitive to say that immature Christians need to come into the church, find maturity and only then go out into the world. But that’s not how Jesus sees it. In John 10, Jesus ties together the ideas of Mission and Spiritual Growth. His people, he says, will enter [the church] and go out to find pasture.
Jesus is saying our spiritual wellbeing doesn’t come from the safety of the church’s walls. Instead, it is the closeness of the Shepherd. And he’s moving his people out into the pasture–the world. It is in following Jesus into the world that we learn to love God and love people. By following God’s direction to do big things, we see his faithfulness. And by learning to love people in novel circumstances that we become experts in loving.
Our spiritual comfort also often involves worshiping with people like us. Jesus tells us that he has more sheep from other pens. He’s referring to Gentiles who will enter the church on equal footing with Jews. The early church realized cultural grounds weren’t a basis for exclusion from God’s people. We must take this lesson to heart. We need to make room for people who look and act differently than we do.
Spiritual safety doesn’t come from hiding inside the church walls. We must follow Jesus into Mission and Spiritual Growth will result.
Questions for Reflection
- Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you had to learn to love people in ways you never did before? Did that teach you anything about yourself, or about others in general?
- What tools do we need in the church, and what opportunities outside of the church best help us to grow in faith, love and dependence on Jesus?
- What sorts of things can we do to help us meet and serve the kinds of people we don’t normally meet at church?