As followers of Jesus, we can often get caught up in focusing on what we should not do rather than what we should do. We might see our culture as one big mess of temptations and corruption. It seems best to hide ourselves from these things and, consequently, these people, who are far from God, even when they are part of our communities and our lives. But when we do that, we’re distancingourselves from Him because we are disobeying His greatest commandment to us:
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)
Loving our neighbors means making connections with those who need to know Him. This is Jesus’ mission for us, also known as The Great Commission.
I realize this can put us in uncomfortable positions or in unfamiliar territory. I know this from experience.
I was once approached by a woman who wanted to dedicate her children to Christ. I was happy to do so and wanted to get to know her and her husband better. We met and as we talked, she revealed that she was an exotic dancer and her husband was a drug dealer. She then asked if she was still welcomed at our church and if I would still dedicate her children.
There was no question as to how to answer her – of course she was welcomed and of course her children would be dedicated. And when she asked me to come to their home to do the dedications in front of their relatives, who were all not Christians, I knew again that the answer was “yes.”
Jesus teaches us that to be effective witnesses—not judges—we must connect with others not by looking down upon their lifestyle choices but by meeting them where they are and by building relationships. Jesus demonstrated this with His disciple Matthew, a tax collector who began believing in Jesus simply because He reached out and showed mercy (see Matthew 9:9-11).
Do you know someone who needs to connect with God? Remember that they are your neighbor.
Know that I’m praying for you as you seek to connect with them.