I have come to the conclusion that for a person like me, being a Christian is incredibly uncomfortable.
There is really no other way to put it. My comfort and The Gospel simply don’t overlap at all. There is a chasm between who I have always seen myself as, and who Christ says I am. My identity in Christ, my purpose in Him, is so vastly separated from my own nature.
The past couple of years I have come into the understanding that what I believe is not just a simple truth. It is not just something I can use to fill up the bits of my life that are lacking. My identity in Christ is something that takes my inadequacy, and replaces it with a far more beautiful story.
And that makes me uncomfortable.
At its heart, the problem I have is that, as a Christian, I am divided between two opposing natures: The Introvert and The Evangelist.
The Introvert is who I have always been. It is who I am when I stay home and pretend to be busy instead of seeing my friends. It is who I am when I avoid personal questions because vulnerability scares me. It is who I am when I see my failures in school, or my strained relationships, or my struggle with sin, and say “I am inadequate”.
In all of these things I play The Introvert: a self-possessed pessimist of the highest degree. Despite the fact that I know this identity ultimately hurts me, it is so incredibly comfortable that it is almost impossible to shake. There is something peaceful about accepting inadequacy; it frees you from the responsibility of your actions. If you see yourself as too broken to succeed, failure is never really a surprise.
The Evangelist is who I am called to be. The Gospel is something so beautiful, so life-changing that I can’t help but want others to know it. Where society says you are a failure, the Bible says you are a child of God. Where the world says you are nothing, Christ says you are fully known and fully loved.
So much of me wants to play the part of The Evangelist. When I see the people around me dumping their identity into status, and admiration, and achievement, my heart breaks. I’ve been there, and I know how deeply unsatisfying these things are. I want people to know that despite their imperfection, acceptance is right in front of them.
So if I truly believe what The Gospel says, and the goodness of its message, why do I find it so hard to act like it? Like any good chasm, this divide in my identity also has a drop.
It’s not that I doubt the message I want to share; rather I doubt my ability to share it. I have spent so long believing that I am broken inside, I honestly feel unqualified to share something so great. Who is going to believe anything this significantly life-changing from the mouth of someone who so clearly doesn’t have their life figured out?
All the time, I see people around me who, on the outside, seem so much more qualified to share The Gospel than me. People who are a thousand times more theologically intelligent than me. People who are wiser than me. People who have suffered more than me, with greater stories of redemption. People who are more inspiring, or happier, or more loving, or more passionate. I constantly see my inadequacy, my lack of qualification.
I am afraid that, should I try and be vulnerable, try to tell people about what I believe, all they will see is me. I am afraid I might fail to convince them of something so incredibly important.
And so I sit in conflict, bound to one nature, longing for another, and fearing what is in between.
They key point I am missing (I hope you are screaming it at the screen at this point) is that the goodness of The Gospel has nothing to do with my ability to share it.
The Gospel isn’t a story that is propagated by good people teaching others to be good, so they can teach others to be good, ad infinitum. It is a story that tells broken people they are loved, even while they are still broken. It says that we have value in the midst of our inadequacy.
So I don’t have to be eloquent, or inspiring, or perfectly confident for The Gospel to change people’s lives; it does that itself. I am not tasked with saving anyone from their brokenness, because Christ has already done that.
All I have to do is be open to God working through me. I just have to take the leap.
So I have decided that I want to make this leap. Regardless of how uncomfortable it is, or how unqualified I feel, or how much easier it would be to remain The Introvert. I want to make room for God to work through me, even in my weakness.
So instead of just easing myself into evangelism and ministry, I have chosen to throw myself into it. This summer I am going to Portland for 3 weeks to spend time sharing the Gospel all around the city, loving the broken, and serving those in need.
This post started out as just an announcement for my trip to Portland, but I felt like it was important for me to also share why I am going. I want it to be public knowledge that this is something that terrifies me; something I am not going to be good at.
I want you to know that I am unqualified, so that when I come back, you know it wasn’t my strength that showed people God in Portland, but His.
I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
1 Corinthians 2:3-5
This is the introductory post of Portlandia, a series on my upcoming missions trip to Portland, OR. More information is incoming, but if you have any questions about my trip, let me know! I would love to talk.