Okay don't jump to conclusions or anything. Title's are supposed to draw you in right?
This past year Ryan and I along with a small group of believers in Orange County began a church called Soma. The name means "body" in Greek and represents the idea that we as followers of Jesus are His Body. We are supposed to be the manifestation of Jesus on this earth so that while he is not physically present as he was 2000 years ago, his hands are still feeding the hungry, his arms are still embracing the hurting, his feet are still going out to where the lost are congregating, his mouth is still proclaiming the Good News that God loves us.
We at Soma truly believe this to be our role as followers and strive to be "missional" in how we live our lives. Rather than drawing people to us, we are out among the people sharing life with them and the love that Christ offers. This is really a big emphasis with us.
The only problem I have found with this way of thinking and this way of following Jesus, is that it actually does take you out of the comfortable confines of church and into the (ahem!) world. And I don't mean I am in the world but not of the world. I don't mean that I share Christ with people but can't relate to them at all because they aren't a part of my church community. I mean, that after 17 years of following God, and 17 years of becoming more and more versed in the language and mannerisms and social functions of the "church" I am now attempting to undo alot of that. I am spending time with a group of people who I haven't spent much time with since my early days as a believer. People who don't go to church and who really don't care that I am a pastor's wife (even though I still introduce myself that way!) and who don't even really know what that means anyway. I am reprogramming my brain to stop thinking that "good christians" spend all their time with other christians and "bad or backslid" Christians spend their time with non-believers in Christ.
And that is hard to do. I am spending time with people who have been hurt by church, who come from overly religious backgrounds, or those of other faiths and cultures. I am spending time with people who casually think of Jesus but don't know what it means to have a relationship with God and who don't feel the need to. The other day at the gym someone walked up and said "Sara, right?" I said yes and then she walked away to another room. I wracked my brain trying to figure out how I knew this woman and finally figured she must have been a sunday school teacher at our former church. I ran into her a few minutes later and asked how I knew her and she told me our kids were at the same school. It just hit me that I still define myself by church both former and present so much so that it doesn't even occur to me that I would know someone in any other context. It convicted me but God also brought to light all the people who he has placed in my life this year.
I am reminded once again that God first loved and then he sent his son to save. I am reminded that Jesus got in trouble for hanging out with "sinners." And Jesus is mentioned in more than one party in the New Testament. This year I have been both challenged in this and blessed by this fact that there are people out there worth knowing and worth loving even if they are not in my church community. It may find me playing a round of "rock band" with a group of non-religious neighbors rather than at a women's luncheon (although I still love those too!). It may find me listening to the stories of people who don't believe there is a God and actually attempting to understand where they are coming from. It may find me reading books that might not fit into my theological comfort zones. Has the pastor's wife gone wild?
Perhaps. But I do believe that missional living, while it takes me deeper into the world, it also requires a deeper discipleship than I have ever felt called to. I am being stretched this year immensely and I feeling very out of my comfort zone. My hope and prayer is to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world, to be along with other followers His "soma," His body. For those of you who followed along despite the "church lingo" I used in this blog, thanks. And thanks to God who "so loved the world."