In a previous post I wrote about the need for Christians to follow Jesus’ example of befriending and spending time with the “sinners” of our society. For my Threshingfloor friends here in Fargo and for others in similar contexts, I wanted to point out four practical things you can do to begin walking in Jesus’ steps here.
- Make space in your life. This may mean stopping your Bible study or quitting your church softball league. It may mean you need to cut back work hours or classes. It will definitely mean you give up some free time, TV time, and maybe even some sleep. If we want to live like Jesus we need to make significant space in our lives for encounters with people. Just like Jesus re-oriented his schedule and context from the heavens to the earth, we are called to sacrifice our own lives for his mission. (Phil. 2:4-10)
- Get out into the world. Use the space you make in life to get into the world. Hang out with some friends at a bar and talk to others there. Go to an open mic night. Become a regular at a local establishment and make friends. Join a city sport league. Hang out with co-workers after the work day is done. Spend time in your yard and talk with your neighbors. Go into the sinners’ world and engage in their context. We are called to be missionaries. Missionaries cross cultural boundaries. Don’t demand that the people you’re trying to reach come to the Christian world to hear about Jesus. Bring the Gospel into their world. (John 4:1-43)
- Invite others into your world. As you meet people in their context, invite them into yours. Sinners were drawn to Jesus, but Jesus didn’t just leave it at that. He chose to sit and eat with them, inviting them further into his life. As you get to know the guys on your city softball league, invite a few of them over to your house for dinner. Invite a co-worker to join you and a few other believers for a game night or a movie. As disciples of Christ our lives are to be open and welcoming. We should be known as people who invite. (Matthew 22:8-10)
- Flaunt your failures. Most people know Christians as either judgmental hypocrites or holier-than-thou righteous freaks. If sinners were drawn to Jesus clearly they saw him as neither of these. Like the Apostle Paul we need to be people who boast in our weaknesses. Make it clear to the people you interact with that you’re a sinner and that the good things in your life are Jesus, not you. Our failures are beautiful mirrors for reflecting the Gospel’s glory. As Louie Giglio said at Passion 2013, our healed wounds are proof of God’s power. Let sinners see your redeemed past. How else will they know they can be redeemed in the same way? (1 Timothy 1:12-17)
Go, therefore, eat with sinners. Our king humbled himself to the point that sinners sought him out and he took time to know them, eat with them, and minister to them. Pray for those who don’t know Christ in your life and be the missionary to them that Jesus has created you to be. As you do it amazing things will happen.