God’s call on the life of every believer is to live among those who don’t know Christ. But it isn’t just being among friends, neighbors, and family members that makes the difference, it’s how we live among those yet to embrace Jesus.
Some well-intentioned believers might polarize, lash out in frustration, or point fingers at the broken world. While others pull back and disengage to choose safety over God’s desire to use us as tools of redemption. These tendencies are playing out in real time as we approach another election cycle.
Though these tendencies are understandable, God’s call on our lives is not to become mean-spirited and angry, nor is it for us to attempt to live safe lives. We are called to model an irresistible faith, to live in the world, but not to be of it.
Jesus is the model of our ministry and faith. He lived with compassion for those who were far from God, saying: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
God Himself engaged with humanity, not from a distance, but intimately and in person. Jesus left the safety of heaven and made His home in the sin-filled squalor of Earth. The apostle John put it this way:
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son” (John 1:14 NLT).
We must interact in the same spirit as Jesus does, not living for ourselves, but serving others as salt and light in the world (see Matthew 5:13-16).
In the last several months as our world has faced a pandemic, Pam and I have witnessed believers in our neighborhood live out the love of Christ in practical ways. Our neighbors found innovative ways to encourage one another and engage in community, even as we were physically distanced.
Two families on our street wrote personalized messages of hope and encouragement with sidewalk chalk by each driveway. Another believer invited the neighborhood to a “Dance Party” where everyone brought music out on their driveways and danced and greeted one another from a safe distance. Whether it was strolling down the street checking on neighbors, dropping off food for those in need, or connecting in bible study over Zoom, these unprecedented circumstances have facilitated creative ways to engage with those who don’t yet know Christ in our neighborhood.
As we look to Jesus as our model for disciplemaking, our method of outreach and care for others doesn’t have to be complicated. Every relationship is an opportunity to exercise the love and compassion of Christ, to display the same kindness He has shown us: in word, in deed, and sometimes in sidewalk chalk.