Go into all the World...start next door!
Mark 16:15 gives us our marching orders- to go into all the world and make disciples.
I know that many of us have heard that charge, we call it "the Great Commission." It is our marching orders. It is the direct answer to the question of God's Will for our lives. We are to go to all places and tell them of the salvation available to them through Jesus Christ. It is one thing that we know our life is to be about- evangelism. This has been the driving force of Destiny since the beginning and dictates our decisions on a day to day basis. We are to go to all people and present the Good News but where do we start?
The answer to that question is also pretty simple- where are you right now? Where you are right now is where you are to start living a life that proclaims the Gospel loud and clear. From the things that I say to the things I do and the way that I spend my time and money should declare to everyone around me that Jesus is the Way. And while the answer to where is simple, often the answer to how is not.
Mission trips employ all sorts of tools to help spread the Gospel. Sometimes we feed them, or build a church for them. Sometimes we paint their house or provide medical attention. Sometimes we attract them with sports camps or games. All of these things are just tools used to reach people and bring them in to hear the Gospel. However, what type of tools are their to use right here at home? For years companies have produced video series and commentaries that you are encouraged to invite people over to view. And while there has been some success it is not as impactful on the community as we would hope.
My wife and I were speaking last night about reaching our neighborhood and she began talking about ways to reach out. No matter the tool and there are some out there- here is what I would say: live, play, serve, love.
The first tool is life. You have to live honestly in front of people. There are few things that turn people away faster than fake people. I have news for you: the world no longer sees Christians as perfect so why are we still trying to portray it? This faith walk is a process of being perfected in Christ not portraying the way we achieved that perfection on our own. The house is not always clean, the kids aren't always perfect and I don't always keep my cool. While I am not making lite of sinning, I am saying that we must live honestly. If we are open with our lives it allows not only for people to connect with us on a more personal level but it also allows gives vision to what salvation actually is and how it changes our lives. Don't you agree that salvation is more than just life after death but is about freedom to live life abundantly here on earth? Knowing that we are loved, cherished and forgiven is a joy that is only found in Jesus Christ but try explaining that to someone that thinks Jesus is just a good guy that lived 2000 years ago! No, that realization comes from seeing that hope lived out in front of you. Living honestly with those around us is an essential part of the Great Commission.
The second tool is one that Destiny all has taught me as we travel the world. It is not an over-spiritualized idea it is just simple observance of people. There are some men in the Dominican that I love deeply and pray for their salvation often- however, we have never spent more than 3 hours consecutively together and we don't even speak the same language. So, how did these relationships begin? - PLAY. It was through the simple game of baseball and sometimes just playing a game of catch that sparked these relationships. It is really nothing new, why is it that I want to spend quality time with a buddy we go play golf, or hoops, or ping-pong? There is something about play that breaks down walls fast. There is an honesty in competition when we allow our emotions to spill into actions. If you want to build relationships quickly with your neighbors set up a blowup water slide in your front yard and invite them to have some fun!
The third tool is to serve. There are some great ways to serve your neighbors; help them cut down a tree, change a tire or fix them a meal. Being saved means that you have a Savior and a Lord. To have a Lord is to give yourself to Jesus Christ. That means that as Christians selfishness is an enemy that we are consistently fighting. When we serve for no self-serving reason it becomes evident that there is something different about us than the world. If you want others to listen to you act selflessly and their ears will be opened.
Finally, love them. Love others and forgive them no matter what. Sure their kid is annoying, their dog messes up your yard and they play their music to loud- love them anyway. Yes they borrowed your weed-eater and got the cord all tangled. Look for opportunities to forgive when others probably wouldn't. Love conquers all and it is no different with the Gospel. If you want people to know how much God loves them you must show them by loving them first.
So, while going is great and a very important part of the Great Commission, so is the call to Stay. Build time into your lives to live life with your neighbors. Play in the front yard, join a softball team, host a block party, coach a little league team- whatever it takes to connect. Then use the tools given to you to spread the Good News!