Being Where People Are
January 1, 2008 - Not long ago I wrote the following question in a notebook I use to record observations from reading and thinking: “What did Jesus do in a given week?” I answered that simple question as I went through the Book of Matthew and wrote 14 pages of observations of how Christ employed His time.
by Jim Elliff
Christ constantly moved about a small area, especially around Capernaum in the north and Bethany down south. He never kept hours or had an office. He always “ate out.” He never seemed to have organizational meetings. He spent a lot of time with His followers, dined with “sinners,” answered lots of questions, taught groups of listeners, took special times to get away and pray, made use of the synagogues to raise issues, healed and did miracles. It seems that much of His time was spent just being among people.
Perhaps we’ve lost sight of how important it is to be among people in a way that lends itself to relaxed, friendly, or even intense, philosophical talk. Like sparks on dry tinder, God works through us powerfully when we make ourselves available to those we most want to see affected by His message. If God has planted His love and the fruit of His Spirit in you, that amazing work of God is largely wasted if we stay away from people. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NKJV).
Here is the idea:
- Find a “hanging out” place, or several, in your area. For some people, time spent there will take place early in the morning before work. Others may be able to invest a weeknight at a coffee shop. Whatever the time and place, this should be a spot that attracts “regulars” with whom you will best be able to connect.
- Learn the names of the people you meet and jot them down so you won’t forget them. These names will make a good prayer list.
- Read your Bible or a Christian book while you’re out.
- Keep a friendly, approachable demeanor. Speak to people. Introduce yourself and find out about them. Focus much of your talk on them. They’ll also be curious about you.
- Ask your new friends what they believe about important issues of life and death. These types of topics make for more significant conversations and relationships.
- Talk about what you believe and how you approach life.
- Seek to make friends who will be important to you no matter what their spiritual preferences. Love them for who they are.
- If you have read something interesting that you can pass on, by all means do so, especially if it has something to do with the true love of your life, Jesus Christ.
These suggestions could be misunderstood in a world that majors on production, but they make sense to those who long to be as much like Christ as possible.
Expect God to do something. You might help a fellow believer or a person who has not previously understood Christ’s message. You never know what God may be doing—the world reacts and responds to “lighted” Christians.
Jim Elliff is President of Christian Communicators Worldwide and travels throughout the United States and overseas as a conference speaker. He has authored several books including “Wasted Faith” and “Pursuing God—A Seeker’s Guide.”