Where Am I Facing?

“I want us to be a church facing outward.”

As a pastor, that is a statement that has been on my mind recently. I want us to be a church that is living our lives through the outward lens of the Gospel. I want us to allow the Gospel message to propel us toward those who do not know Christ. That is what the Gospel should do in our lives. It should move us outward. And yet too often it does not.

For too many Christians, the message of the Gospel is a message that saved us. We celebrate because Jesus rescued me. And yet the hope of the Gospel should place an urgency in our lives because others are also perishing without Christ. The hope of the Gospel should make us others-centered as we live out the heart of the Father who so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.

And yet despite the hope of the Gospel, too many churches have turned inward. They face each other rather than facing a world that is perishing. They have become consumers seeking to meet their own needs. We turned a message that should lead us to the lost and hurting, to a message that gives us permission to be safe and comfortable.

Recently my wife asked me if I view myself as an inward or outward Christian. I responded by saying, “outward in heart and inward in action.” My heart longs to be a follower of Jesus living out the mission of Christ but too often complacency, laziness and indifference dictates my life.” I could have justified my inwardness by stating some well-meaning response like “right now as a pastor my responsibility is focused on equipping the saints. I am inward so that others can be outward.” But the reality is you don’t lead others to the outward mission of Christ by yourself being inward. I can’t say “go” and not be “going”. I can’t be preaching an outward message and then wonder why we remain inward.

And so as I reflect on my desire for us to be a church facing outward, I have to begin with the question, “where am I facing?” I can’t be content with good intentions. I can’t settle for cliche responses about equipping the saints. I have to face the world who is perishing in both heart and deed. I have to seek to have the heart of the Father who does not desire anyone to perish. My heart for our church must begin with my heart.

And so I have to ask the question, “Where am I facing?”