Holy Habits Reconsidered

Jesus told his disciples before returning to heaven they will receive the power of the Holy Spirit and they were to be his witnesses in the world.  Jesus is telling them to look out before you look in.  Jesus did not say create great worship, so everyone is happy.  Jesus did not say create relational small groups, so everyone feels connected.  Jesus did not say create financial campaigns, so everyone learns the joy of giving.  Jesus said the Holy Spirit will give us eyes to look outside; to see the human condition in need of the grace of God.  This outward look of offering Christ to the world happens before they take an inward look of taking care of the body.

Many stories in Acts start with someone seeing a need.  Once seeing the need these early followers of “The Way” would offer the grace of God to the people in need.  This they did so in a multitude of ways-Peter preached and healed, Barnabas sold his land, Stephen offered his life, and Paul set sail for a savior.  Witness and mission preceded worship, nurture, and stewardship.  It starts with a witness that is connected to a mission, which fuels worship, created networks of nurture, stimulates creative stewardship marked by unprecedented generosity.  It begins from the outside and then turns inward. 

The story of Paul and Barnabas seeing a crippled man in Lystra provides an overview for this series.  We see their witness when it says, “In Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet and had never walked, for he had been crippled from birth.  He listened to Paul as he was speaking. And Paul, looking at him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed.  First, they looked intently and saw the need.

Looking at the world the way God sees will be our catalyst for reconsidering our holy habits.  I want to use showing up and seeing what is happening outside the walls of our church as the springboard in reconsidering the holy habits of witness, worship, nurture, and stewardship.  These holy habits require us to look to our neighbors and to our savior.  Then, we will turn inward and consider inward holy habits.  Supporting the mission base will be reconsidered in light of how we interact with the mission field.  I hope to reverse the starting point when thinking about our Holy Habits from the Outside In.  Congregations can activate the power of the Holy Spirit by making their first priority to intentionally look out beyond themselves.  When this happens everything else takes care of itself. What makes our religious habits holy is by stepping into the line of vision of people outside the walls of our church.  This creates opportunity to be changed in the way we and they see the world.  The more ways we offer our witness, the more God’s spirit can shape our holy habits.  The holy habit of worship expands in proportion to our expanded view of what God is doing.  The holy habit of nurture grows in fellowship and word as we celebrate these new sightings.  The holy habit of stewardship moves beyond our “offering plate” mentality as we see what possessions we hold in common and how we are to share them.

We fool ourselves into thinking our holy habits of: witness as usual, worship exclusively with the faithful, nurturing our own church family; and raising funds to perpetuate the institution is enough.  These will not breed holy habits, much less generosity.  We must reconsider our holy habits by entering into a conversation with our neighbors; giving a witness to the good news.  There are people just around the corner of our church who need us to show up; more than they need our usual habitual ways.  We need to reconsider our holy habits.

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