Mission Blog Day 1
My kingdom does not belong to this world. (Jn 18:36
Naples, Florida, April 10.. Another tranquil dawn in our outdoor prayer room in Naples. Well, not just "another". In a few short hours, Evelyn and I will be jetting north to join a dozen or so joyful missionaries for Holy Week missions in New York, our first such Holy Week mission since before Covid shut the city down. And as I sit here quietly with the Lord, I am stuck on eight short words from John.
"My kingdom does not belong to this world." Jn 18:36
But what are we doing then, heading into the very heart of what some would say is the very capital of "this world"? If His kingdom does not belong to it? Or for that matter, why did Jesus himself head into Jerusalem on another Palm Sunday many years ago if His kingdom did not belong there either? Jerusalem was the New York of its day.
The longer I meditated on this phrase, the more I saw its relevance for our missionaries as we head for St. Patrick's Cathedral tomorrow. Three thoughts for you:
1. If Jesus's kingdom does not belong to this world, neither do we. All year long, all of us struggle, triumph, and enjoy this world and it's many things. But what Holy Week reminds us of, and especially what missions in Holy Week remind us of, is that to find our way to God, we can only do so through Him, not through the things of the world. So as we embark on the many long hours ahead seeking souls for Him on the streets of New York, let's remember to stay focused on the prize. The prize is not the things of this world that we are sacrificing this week. The prize is the Kingdom. Home.
2. Jesus's kingdom may not belong to this world, but this world belongs to his kingdom. This world, especially its "capital " New York, flows along briskly at its own pace, seemingly unaware of the the truth that it was created by God, and is of God-- of His Kingdom. Its current is deep and strong, and when people get caught up in it, its hard to get out. Within its many eddies and side pools though, it's people often find themselves unhappy, alone. "Something is wrong," they muse. But they can't quite put their finger on just what that "something" is. Like the Prodigal Son, they are out there in the world, and think they have no way to get home. We missionaries will be going out into the world this week to seek them out, take them by the hand, and to gently lead them home. Home to Jesus. Home to the Kingdom.
3. The bridge between this world and the Kingdom is Love. How will we do it? How will we manage to lead perfect strangers from the unhappy world they are in to the world they were created for? How can we possibly manage to stop perfect strangers on the street, get to know them in a brief encounter, and gently guide them to Him? Love. Love is the answer. This week, we will be encountering people where they are, in the streets. We will be listening to their souls in struggle. We will empathize genuinely with them out of our deeply felt brother-and-sister-hood in Christ. We will not be virtue-signalling, we will be virtue-living. We will be the compassionate soul they need at that moment. We will love them in. And how can we do this? Are we super humans or something? No, unfortunately not. But Jesus is. And His Holy Spirit will love them in. To His Kingdom. Through us. We just have to let Him.
Naples, April 10, 2022