If you’ve been in a good, Bible preaching church very long you’ve probably heard about how we need to be loving unbelievers and reaching out to our coworkers, neighbors and friends. We need to be loving them tangibly. We need to be being a ‘light’ to them. You know the song, “This Little Light of Mine.” We need to be speaking boldly; standing up for our faith to those who don’t know Jesus. However we often sit in our little circles after these convicting messages and talk about how hard it is; how we’re afraid of rejection and how we are afraid to talk to people we don’t know. We’re afraid of what they might think of us or we’re afraid of what they might expect of us afterward. I would like to suggest that when it comes to loving others and reaching the lost for Jesus, maybe we’re skipping a step.
Community and fellowship with other believers should be training ground for loving and serving the unbelievers. What better place to practice than with people who already know Christ. You want to be able to tell your neighbor you’re praying for them or ask your coworker if you can pray with them? Why not practice with your friend in Sunday School who is struggling? You want to be able to reach out a make a meal for your unsaved friend who had a baby? Make a meal for a person in your church who isn’t feeling well. Want to start even smaller? Afraid to ask your coworker how their day is going? Why not start by asking someone in Sunday School or Small Group how their day is going? If you can’t even step outside of yourself long enough to think about your own brother or sister in Christ and what they might be struggling with, no wonder it’s so impossibly hard for us to even imagine doing so with someone who believes differently than we do!
Think about it. Do you honestly think if you send a text or Facebook message to your struggling Sunday School friend and tell them that you’ve been thinking about them and praying for them, that they are going to respond in hostility toward you and be mad at you for it? Or do you think if you go and approach someone who looks a little less happy than usual and say ‘hi’ and ask to sit by them that they are going to turn around and eat you? I mean come on!! We are playing right into the devil’s hands and he doesn’t even have to do anything but sit by and laugh maniacally as we do all the work We are scared of our own people! It’s ridiculous. We’ve bought into some lie that if we tell someone that we’re praying for them that it’s going to make them mad at us and hate us for ever or… dun dun dun….. they might….. think we’re….. WEIRD…!!!!
I have a heart for community. Real community. Not this fluffy, prayer circle, feel good, Jesus t-shirt community, but real community. Community that is there for you when you’re struggling. Community that calls and texts to check on the status of a prayer request that was given on Sunday. Community that comes together to help with a practical need or cry with a tragedy. Believers who all have a common goal: to show the love of Christ, that is overflowing in their hearts, tangibly to other believers and unbelievers, so that through that genuine self-giving love, they might show the unbelievers what it truly means to be a follower of Jesus.
That sounds great right! But that can’t happen if we’re too afraid of our own people to love them. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but churches and small groups are meant to be training grounds for the battle zones, why even call yourself a Christian if you don’t have any intention of thinking outside of yourself? What’s the point? I’m pretty sure that Christ didn’t die on the cross for His own personal benefit. As he was being nailed to the cross, He wasn’t thinking about how much He enjoyed it, He was thinking about you and about me!! He died for you and for me! He showed us ultimate selflessness. Ultimate servitude. But we’re over here just happy to sit around thinking about how everyone else can serve me? That system falls apart when that’s everyone’s mindset. Who is going to serve you, when everyone is waiting to be served?
Let’s work on getting outside of ourselves and thinking about someone else for a change. Let’s work on thinking about someone’s happiness other than our own. Let’s think about what could be going on in someone else’s life. The world doesn’t revolve around you or me. Let’s work on serving our brothers and sisters in Christ and once we have that down, maybe it will be a little easier to show genuine love to those who don’t know Jesus.
God, I pray that you help us to think about others first. Make that our hearts desire. Put into our minds thoughts to care about and think about what others might be going through and struggling with. Help us to be creative and think of how we can be a blessing to someone who might need it. Help us to think outside of ourselves and not get caught up in the devil’s lies. We love you and know that you can give us the power and the grace to serve others and reflect your love to them.