If I could sit down with you over coffee. If we could chat while our kids played at the park. I would tell you of all the incredible things God has done at The Edge and how much I cannot and will never take any credit or thanks for any of it. In fact, my heart’s desire is that I be removed from His service if ever I decide that The Edge is because of me. I would want my lamp stand removed if ever I take credit for His Glory. I would also tell you how broken my heart has been, how persecuted I have felt, and how lonely the journey has been at times.
I like honesty. I admire transparency, and I truly don’t know how to communicate any other way. So when someone once asked me what the most challenging or surprising part of starting a church had been, the answer floated off my lips before I even gave it much thought. The most surprising and challenging thing about starting a church has been, without a doubt, the reaction from many of my fellow Christians, my own self-professing brothers and sisters in Christ.
No one is exempt here. It wasn’t just strangers or acquaintances. There were family, friends, and members of previous churches we had attended all in that mix, and it’s still something we contend with today. Even my sons were told at school by other kids, “My parents say your Dad’s church is stealing all the members from other churches.” I know who these kids are. I know their parents. We sit beside them at ballgames. We wave in carpool. We pass in the grocery store and smile…even now…especially now. Because, like I told my sons when they looked to me for advice on how to deal with fellow Christians throwing rocks…we show God’s love…always. If Christ can love us while hanging on a cross that His own people nailed him too…how much easier should it be for us to continue to love those brothers and sisters who throw stones. But did you catch the key words there? Fellow Christians, rocks, brothers, sisters, stones, suffer. Shouldn’t it read more like: Evil, stones, haters, rocks, satan, and suffer? It’s the single saddest reality of the Christian world today in my life. We profess Him with our mouths and then blaspheme the very work He is doing in our midst. Some even try to stand in the way, blocking others from coming to know Christ, finding new life, or being baptized according to The Word, just because it’s happening in a way that makes them uncomfortable. Since when is Christianity about comfort? It just makes no sense. But every time it takes my breath away, catches me off guard, or makes me want to scream, cry, or blog…the Holy Spirit brings to mind one sentence from Jesus’ own mouth, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” I can hold on. I will hold on.
Our family keeps much of it in. We don’t talk about it often. We don’t call people out, or slam them publicly. We smile, and wave. We pray and hold fast to the vision God has placed on our hearts, and that is to reach every single person in our community with new life through Christ, and when we are done here, we will go to the next community, and the next. Our job at The Edge will NEVER be done. Our church will NEVER be big enough as long as there is ONE lost person left in our reach. If you doubt the passion or the vision, come and see. Just come close, and if the same Spirit that communes with the God of Jacob, Abraham, Isaac, Peter, John, and Paul lives in you, then I can assure you He will be faithful to reveal what He is doing at The Edge if you are willing to not let fear, pride, or tradition stand in the way. But woe to you who are blind guides, and determine that those things God has ordained are not of Him without even coming close enough to see.
I’ve always said I would go to the ends of the world if God called. I would face lions, tigers, and bears. I would navigate the jungle and the desert. I would live among remote tribes. I felt like a brave Christian, ready and willing to do anything He asked. I never imagined simply being called to our own backyard would be so tough and so heartbreaking. But let me end on this solid note…I would not change it for anything in this world because I witness miracles like these every single week:
Facebook Post from Sunday, July 27, 2014 of a man who I have never met, but hope to meet soon.
“Just came back from the edge church! That’s something I haven’t done in a long time!!! And it feels good to feel his presence 🙂 I am proud to say that i’ve given my life back to God! I now know that without him i can’t do it alone. I’ve been keeping my heart cold for so long and have shut people out. I know that without God I am nothing. I’m done feeling that way. Today I cried my heart out to the lord and asked for his forgiveness!!”
Come close friend, brother, and sister…come close and see. Don’t be blind and don’t miss what our Father is doing in our midst. He’s changing lives, and someday you will know without a doubt that He was here…doing a new thing. I pray it’s because you witnessed Him firsthand and not because He asks you on that day, “Tell me son or daughter, who did you say I was…in Clinton, Oklahoma?”
“I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” John 17:21