I can’t remember the last time I left my house without some spot of baby puke somewhere on my person. (That’s a lie. I actually can remember: it was the day I left the apartment to bring Jubilee home from the hospital.) Each morning I carefully examine my clothing, take the kid (who has been carefully secured into her car seat) to the car, drive to the sitter’s place, and arrive at our destination only to discover that somehow between the ‘close examination’ and ‘arrival at our destination’ stages of the day, new puke is contaminating some article of my clothing.
But I’ve also discovered how understanding people are: the consensus seems to be, “You’re the parent of an infant. Infants puke. Wear it as a badge of honor; they’re only this young once.” I’m more worried about the goo on my shirt than anybody else is, and they see it as happy evidence that I’m a new dad.
The same has been with church planting (and any Kingdom ministry, really)–we’re dealing with a lot of mess: the pukey mess of broken lives, hurting communities, addiction, and an enemy hell-bent on killing, stealing, destroying… Loving people is messy. And it’s okay to have some of the evidence of loving people on you.
I’m not saying we pursue contamination by the world; in fact, we’re reminded that though we are those set apart for a new Kingdom, we still journey here. As strangers and foreigners undefiled, we are to live out the hope we have (cf. James 1:27). So the question I’m asking myself is this: what happy evidence do I carry with me that I’m hanging out with people in the midst of their mess? Do I view each day as a new opportunity to take part in someone else’s life (as I do with my kid) and journey with them?
It is a high calling and real joy to do life together with others. It may be messy (and more than messy, it will be painful to ‘do life together’), but we see the mess as part of what we get to do.