Friday, July 21, 2017

Live in Illinois (or Wherever) for the Gospel

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with some church leaders who are ministering in a difficult environment. I won’t go into all the details of what they shared with me, but essentially these are brothers and sisters whose lives are in danger because of their love for the Lord Jesus Christ. Furthermore, the dangers they face are partly due to policies enacted or at least tacitly encouraged by their government.

I asked them how they planned on responding to these dangers. “We are going to stay here and do what we always do. This is normal. We are here to share the gospel.”

What a great understanding of purpose...and a perspective that those of us in Central Illinois would do well to adopt. The temptation to want to leave Illinois due to frustration with leadership in Springfield or a poor economy is understandable. The failures of our state leadership are overwhelming. No other state in the union has mangled their budget this badly.

But our brothers and sisters in hard environments are not the only ones who have been called to a certain place to share the gospel. God didn’t call us to live in Illinois for the glory of our pocketbook. Our placement here is not ultimately about sound fiscal policy.

Yes, we should seek and pray for wise decision making on the part of our leaders. Yes, you need to be able to financially provide for your family and yourself. No, it is not inherently sinful to move out of the state.

But here are three encouragements:

First, understand why you are in Illinois in the first place. You have not been placed in Illinois so that you can become financially wealthy. God’s greatest desire for you is not that you would build really big barns (figuratively or literally, my farming friends). God has placed you here to be an ambassador proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ to a community that desperately needs Him.

Second, stay in Illinois for the sake of the gospel. Don’t trade temporary trinkets for eternal treasure. Yes, your taxes may (will) be higher here than other places.

So what?

If you can’t stay focused on your gospel mission because of higher taxes, what are you going to do when true suffering comes? As long as the door for gospel ministry is open…exploit it!

Finally, leave Illinois for the sake of the gospel.
My prayer is that God would call some in our church to leave our community. But I don’t want this to be about fleeing a community with which you are disgusted. I want you to run to places God is calling you because you are passionate about sharing Jesus Christ with others who need to hear about His work on the cross and worship Him!

Pastor Daniel

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