A "Radical" Life
Striving to live a life less-ordinary.

knowing your neighbors

I sat by the water for awhile this morning, so I could breath and think and pray. Soon after arriving, a carload of people parked next to me. Five people in their early 20's I would imagine, tumbled out of the car to fish, smoke, and drink a case of Vault. Good times. Immediately, f-bombs started flying and my concentration started waning.

But it got me thinking about my role as a follower of Christ in such a situation. What's the right thing to do?

Option 1: Sit there and ignore them.
Option 2: Walk out and say, "Hey, do you guys know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?"
Option 3: Something in the middle where I simply befriend them and see where the conversation leads.

Option 1 is easy. Doesn't require, well, anything. Of course, it doesn't produce any fruit either. But I could relax and do what I came to do, and get what I needed out of the day.

Option 2 is stupid. If I had any chance of telling them about Jesus, I just blew it by being an idiot. My chances of them listening to anything I have to say after such a statement would then diminish to approximately .7%. And I know that technically I'd be "asking" them if they knew Jesus, but really wouldn't I be saying something more like, "You're definitely not Christians because you wouldn't be talking like that if you were. Or smoking...Christians certainly don't smoke. Pretty sure it's in Scripture somewhere." In other words, they'd hear "I've decided you must be bad people and that you need me to tell you all the things you're doing wrong, because I'm far superior."

Option 3 would generally be the direction I would go. I'm a firm believer in the idea that the best way to tell people about Jesus is to build relationships. Be their friend, show them you care about THEM, and then, when the timing is right, bring the conversation around to all the God/Jesus/church stuff in a very non-foreceful and loving way. Sometimes this happens immediately, but usually, it takes more time because in our culture, people are most likely not going to listen to you until they know they can trust you.

I played the scenario out in my head and decided to stay in the car. I didn't think I could build a relationship in the situation we were in. I racked my brain for anything I could do or say after walking up to them that could possibly lead to anything helpful, and decided I could end up doing more damage than good. I probably should have at least prayed for them at the point, but I guess I'm not that spiritual.

I've given a lot of thought to this as the day has gone on though. I was reminded once again of an entirely separate culture from what I know. They're from the same town, speak English and are white just like me (okay, they weren't nearly AS white as me, but you get my point). Even though we're very similar by most definitions of "culture," we're worlds apart. We speak very differently, we likely have different values and we look and dress very differently. I would severely stick out if I hung around them. I never have any interaction with that culture any more. Why not?

So I decided that getting out of the car would be a mistake. But it got me thinking about how badly I need to get out of my bubble and make a commitment to be more intentional about building relationships with people outside of my "culture." And I've decided it needs to start with my neighbors (not figuratively speaking...literally, my next door neighbors). I want to, over the course of the summer, invite each of our 5 immediate neighbors and families over for dinner with no intentions other than to get to know them better. I'm ashamed to admit that we haven't done this already. I've made this commitment before, and failed. We know all our neighbors of course, and we talk to them fairly regularly and get along great. But honestly, it's all a bit superficial. We need to invite them into our home...and see where God takes it.

Interestingly enough, as I've sat in this coffee shop writing this, 3 of the people from the water and one of my neighbors walked in. Hmmmm...

I'm hoping that writing this inspires other followers to be more intentional about building relationships as well. We MUST stop going through the motions and live out our faith. Otherwise, our faith is dead and useless.
1 comments:

Jeremiah,

I agree - I mean in my circles of playing music around town, I meet non-believers all of the time and instead of being like, 'wow you are totally messed up and obviously need salvation', I just talk to them without having further intentions except to just be a nice and friendly person. I think people should see Jesus in you not as a judge, but as a friend. I mean when Jesus appeared to the 'really bad' sinners in the Bible, he basically gave them hope without judgment, and that's where you need to lead people. I also think people need to see Christians enjoying Christ as their Lord and Savior instead of trying to impress him by trying to convert as many as possible. It's about the heart, not a scorecard, right? =) - J


Jeremiah Smith

Jeremiah Smith

WHY THE BLOG?

I'm striving to live a life less-ordinary. As followers of Christ our lives should not look like everybody elses. We should be more giving, more loving, more passionate, more sure, more...radical. But we're not. We blend in and desperately want to fit in. This blog is my journey toward to a "radical" life that doesn't look like the rest of the world.

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Atlanta, Georgia, United States
A Hoosier, a Buckeye and two Rwandans out on a mission to serve the world. Missionaries for Rwanda through AFRICA NEW LIFE MINISTRIES. We are entirely donor-supported, so if you'd like to partner with us through prayer or finances, we would LOVE to set up a time to chat!