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AlumNews: Talon Articles

Following Jesus’ example for outreach

Friday, September 14, 2007  
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By Jonathan Cannon

Most people choose to attend a Christian school because of its uplifting and often protected environment. Christian universities provide uplifting chapel services, Christian concerts and devotionals.

And Oklahoma Christian University is no exception, with View 63 on Mondays, Refuge on Thursdays and Fuel, the newest devotional, on Tuesday nights.

These three devotionals combined with Sunday and Wednesday night church services leave students with little time to spend with non-Christians in ministry.

Students often joke about the “OC bubble” which protects them from the evils of the world, but the “bubble” also keeps our faith inside.

In Mark 16:15 Christ calls us to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”

But we cannot fulfill this mission if we are spending all our time with other Christians shielded from the world.

This does not mean that we should stop attending spiritual devotionals, church services and spending time with other Christian. These things are essential to Christian living. They help keep us accountable and uplifted.

The problem comes when we are too busy with our Christian friends to reach out to non-Christians or too afraid to step out of our comfort zones.

However, this problem does not affect only Oklahoma Christian students or even just students of Christian universities. It is a common problem among all Christians.

We do anything to avoid associating with non-Christians, sometimes intentionally, and often unintentionally. But, how can we reach people if we don’t talk to them?

As Christians we have become isolationists. We work hard to separate ourselves from the evil of the world but in the process have separated ourselves from the people of the world.

Many people say we can use church activities, devotionals and Christian gatherings to reach people. But this approach is ineffective.

We should follow Christ’s example to reach people. He didn’t try and take them to the synagogue for a New Reign concert or a devotional in the Roman Forum to teach them.

He used teachable moments and parables. Christ taught people in the streets and in the market places.

I believe that, like Christ, we need to meet people where they are. This means both physically and spiritually.

Instead of another devotional, we should spend an evening each week starting random conversations with people in Starbucks.

But perhaps the reason we avoid outreach is not that we are too busy with Christian activities, but rather we fear diversity.

We must decide if we are truly willing to welcome all races and classes into our Christian community, or if we want to remain a homogenous group of middle-class Christians that choose who will be in the exclusive Christian club.

As Christians, we must be willing to reach out to everyone. We must not be afraid of someone who thinks differently and might challenge our way of thinking.

We must be willing to openly discuss doctrinal issues both across the church aisles and denomination lines.

We must step out of the comfort of our air-conditioned church building and into the bright sun, allowing our eyes to adjust so we can see past our difference and into the hearts of people.

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