by Kyle Idleman
A pastor once said it like this: “Religion is the default mode of the human heart.” It’s where we naturally run when grace seems a little too extravagant. But here’s the thing, religion is predictable, and predictable is the furthest thing from the way of Jesus.
The longer I’ve followed Jesus, the more I’ve realized that the way of Jesus has a way of making us go out of our way. That’s what it did for my friend Brook. Brook was tired of the predictability he saw in the church. He wanted students to understand God’s compassion for people, and that was a lesson that just couldn’t be learned on a chalkboard—it had to be experienced. So, Brook decided to take them to spend time with a group of people that he saw Jesus go out of the way to spend a lot of time with—the poor. One-at-a-time living often looks like out-of-the-way love.
This past Summer, I visited the place that God built through Brook’s out-of-the-way love. Go Ministries is an international organization with a heavy focus in serving alongside indigenous Christian pastors and leaders to go to the out-of-the-way areas of the Dominican Republic and help them flourish.
This looks like feeding 1,000+ children a hot meal six days a week, but it also looks like giving them an unreserved hug as they run to greet you. It looks like offering education to more than 600 children through a school, but it also looks like playing baseball with the middle-schooler down the street. It looks like offering medical aid to the poor through a daily medical clinic, but it also looks like sitting down and eating a meal with someone who is lonely.
It had been ten years since I had last been to see GO Ministries in the Dominican Republic. This time I came with a bunch of high school students, and one thing I noticed was this phrase on everything GO Ministries was involved with: mutual transformation. I love this phrase because it’s at the heart of someone who follows the one-at-a-time way of Jesus. When you have eyes for the one, when you go out of the way to help the one, you yourself are transformed to be more like Jesus. Mutual transformation.
But here’s the other thing that happens after you stick with it for a while: you begin to see the predictability of loving unpredictably. You begin to see a harvest that you cannot contain. One of the things that encouraged me the most about my time there was to see what God does over the course of 10, 15, even 25 years of everyday faithful intentionality. Galatians 6:9 (NET) says, "So we must not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up."
That’s how a harvest works—you don’t notice it growing, but you don’t give up. And 25 years later, that young adult could’ve never expected what God would do with a little bit of out-of-the-way love.
For a list of mission trip opportunities, text MISSION TRIP to 733733.
Kyle Idleman is the Senior Pastor at Southeast Christian Church.