If you are a Christian and trying to follow Jesus, then I bet you have friends and family that don’t. You deeply care for them and really believe that following Jesus would help them, not only eternally but also right now in this life.
The one problem – they want nothing to do with Church, God, or Christianity. So what do you do?
A lot of times we pray (good thing), and look for new or exciting ways to invite them to church. Maybe it’s a Christmas service or a new series – we just want to get them talking about God so that we can share the good news!
Yet we get so frustrated that nothing seems to be happening. Either we talk ourselves out of asking or each time we do we get shot down.
This was always my frustration. I wanted to “make disciples” yet it felt like I was making awkward conversations instead. Until one day I discovered something lacking in my relationships…
This is the one area I found myself lacking and I think we can lack in as Christians. From the point of view of someone who doesn’t believe in God, what have we done to show our love or care for them? How have we shown they can trust us?
A lot of times all we’ve done is invite them to church.
I have a friend (we’ll call him Sam) who was talking to me one day about his religious background. He was forced to go to church at a young age, but as he got older his parents didn’t make him go anymore, and he was pumped at the chance to quit!
After several years he has gotten older and seen a lot more in life. He was starting to ask spiritual questions again but knew for sure he didn’t want to go to church. Through many conversations over the course of several months, Sam warmed up to the idea of exploring the Bible with me. Currently, we are reading and challenging each other and Sam is warming up to the idea of getting involved in a church community.
God had been working on Sam for a while, well before we met each other. I’m getting to be part of Sam’s story because God is allowing me to work with him, in the work he is doing in Sam’s life. The only reason Sam agreed to explore the Bible is that our friendship is built on mutual trust and appreciation.
From that foundation of trust, Sam opened up to me about what God was already doing in his life. The awesome part is that all I need to do is provide context for what Sam is discovering in his life through God.
By no means am I saying church is a bad thing and you shouldn’t invite people to your church (unless you are at a bad church… then stop going and inviting :p). I’m simply asking have you stopped to ask yourself if this friend, peer, or family member is ready or trust you enough to go?
So we don’t need Church? Got it!
We need to recognize that God is already at work in people’s lives. He cares and loves them way more than you ever will. Therefore, we need to see that our role is to let God do the work and be used however he wants.
This requires trust!
Trust that God truly does care and is at work in people’s lives. But also building trust with the people we care/love so much and want to see them come to God. Trust is the foundation of relationships that God uses to show his love through us.
When enough trust is built and love shown, maybe church is an option that God can use to reveal himself. However, that has to be asked on… you guessed it… the foundation of trust.
Cool! But How Do We Do This?
This is not as difficult as it sounds. Truthfully it’s one of my favorite parts of ministry. Why? Because it gives me a chance to just love people and hang out with them. There is no pressure to, “make sure I know the right bible verses” or “what questions can I ask to make sure this conversation drifts towards a spiritual talk.”
Instead, my only question is “how do I demonstrate love and care in this situation?”
The same way we show love to people we love and care about.
I’m sure your thinking “okay you wise guy. Seriously that’s your answer?” Yes! It is because, think about it – you have no problem showing love and care to friends, family, children, etc.
I’m not saying you don’t love and care for these people – but because we want them to find Jesus soooooo bad for some reason, we start treating them differently.
Stop doing that and just be their friend. Practically that looks like this…
- Seriously just hang out with them. Ask questions about how they are doing, how’s life, work, children, etc.
- Don’t talk about God, Jesus, Church, etc. Unless they bring it up, it’s okay to talk about other things and not be searching for a time to mention the newest Bible study you’re doing.
- Invite them over for a meal or shopping trip.
- Find a need they have and help out. Don’t just help out then say let me tell you about Jesus. Just help!
- Call or text them just to talk. Like literally just talk.
There is an endless number of ways to show love and care to people. It is not a one time thing. Instead it is a commitment to demonstrating God’s love to your friend forever.
How Jesus Did This
My favorite of all time is how Jesus did it in Matthew 9:9-13. Notice before he asked Matthew to change his life, or believe he was the Son of God, Jesus ate dinner with him!
This is a BIG deal. Matthew is the worst type of person – a tax collector. Jesus is one of the ‘best’ type of people – a religious person. The reason the Pharisees were so thrown off by Jesus eating with all the tax collectors is that religious people didn’t mix with “those” kind of people. The Pharisees weren’t the only one that knew this social rule – so did Matthew and his friends.
What do you think that communicated to them about Jesus? You can trust him!
From that trust foundation, Matthew became one of the few men Jesus poured into and later God used to change the world.
Do you find trust to be an important part of your relationships? Like me, have you ever forgotten about showing love and care? Would love to hear from you!