In my last post, I made reference to a particular book written by Jim Henderson (Evangelism Without Additives) that I had just read. In that post, I commented on something the author said that I found very challenging: We need to be careful what we call people who are not walking with God. Instead of referring to them as “lost” people, it would be far better to refer to them as “missed” people. To say someone is lost is to say something derogatory about them, to say someone is missed is to suggest they are of great value. Would you rather be lost or missed? To me, this is a very practical insight. What a difference a word makes!
There is another concept from this particular book I want to further challenge us to think through. When we think of helping someone whom Jesus misses most, we often approach them with the attitude that they need to “do” something. Our message is that they are in the wrong and they need to change, and our conversation is centered on what it is they need to do. What exactly do they need to do?
- They need to give their lives to Christ.
- They need to repent.
- They need to confess their sins.
- They need to listen to our spiel about God and they need to agree with us.
We are successful only when they do what we told them they needed to do. If they do, we can rejoice. If not, we keep working on them.
Now stop and give this some thought. We approach people with a desire to get them to “do” something! We have a very clear agenda. We want to “get” something from them. We are offering them something and we can’t be happy with them until we “close the deal.” Kinda’ seems strange when you think of it this way, doesn’t it? If you think this is exaggerated, think for a moment of how our message comes across to a person whom Jesus misses most. They are usually very aware they are a project of ours we are seeking to complete. If we actually do “close the deal,” they see us move on from them to another piece of work.
Instead of looking at people with the intention of “getting” something from them, what would happen if we focused instead on “giving” them something. What difference would this change of focus make? What would happen if we sought to give them something without our joy being dependent upon what they “do,” rather just who they “are?”
What could we possibly give them? How about ourselves? How about our time? Our help? Our attention? Our friendship (genuinely offered).
- What if we loved others for their sake, not ours?
- What if we stopped loving others for the purpose of changing them for God, instead deciding to love them simply because we have been changed by God?
What difference might that make? Simply put yourself in their place. Who would you prefer to have as a friend? Someone who was trying to take something from you, or one that was trying their best to give something to you?
Really doesn’t seem that difficult to figure out, does it? Give, don’t take. Make it about them, not you. Get it?