I spend so little time in church compared to the time I spend with my family, friends, and co-workers. In light of that, my mandate is to influence them for the cause of Christ. Luke 14:34 says “Salt [is] good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?” One of my challenges is to determine how I can be “salty” enough so that those around me are left thirsty for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Over the years in my Christian walk, I have been more like the blast of a shotgun shell. I would “follow an unction” ( more accurately, an emotional urge) to fire a shot in someone’s general vicinity from a long range. Collateral damage was inevitable and, frankly, bloody for everyone in the room. The truth is, while I gleamed over my prey’s demise, the seed sown had fallen on ground that wasn’t prepared for sustained growth (Mat. 13:19-22).
I think I will put down my old splatter gun and invest in some focused sharp shooting skills. On exam day, I’ll part a honeybee’s wings on a hound dog’s hiney at a thousand yards. Expert marksmen know how to breathe properly and squeeze the trigger for improved accuracy. Mastering the call to love my neighbor, well, that’s a bit more complicated. I need to pray for God’s leading when I am determining the best person to try and reach out to.
Study the Word. God’s very nature is wrapped up in His love for His children. Loving my neighbor naturally follows from our Father’s example. I find His desire for His children within the pages of His Word. I will saturate my soul with the scriptures and when my mouth is dry and empty, His Words will pour from my born again spirit and satisfy their thirst.
It is so significant to be sure we are “walking the talk”. It’s cliché and it rolls right off the tongue, but it’s not so easy to do. Real life is lived outside the four walls of the church. That includes real fill in the blank yourself. I mean real pain, fear, anxiety, emotional vomit, selfishness, etc. You’re with me! Don’t deny it.
After I say the things I believe God expects me to, I have to stand in faith knowing they will come to pass in their life, no matter what the circumstances are. One of my bigger shortcomings has been my lack of following up in a systematic and routine way. I am busy, so putting them on my schedule will help me move from the shotgun attack to the eagle eye, super-shooter God wants me to be. Building relationships with potential believers should require me to organize parts of my day so I can control the scenarios I am led into. Let’s face it, if I don’t follow through and show compassionate interest in them, then they know I am nothing more than a double-barreled blowhard and they are the trophy destined to hang on my wall.
What strategies has God given you for focusing in on some of the people you are in contact with outside the walls of your local church? Let us know by posting a response to this article on The Celebration blog. They will benefit all of us. So, let’s make a deal. I promise to work through these on a greater level. Will you?
(first published 08.16.09)