Friday, June 18, 2010

The Word Became Flesh and Moved into the Neighborhood

“The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14, Message).  The Jesus event demonstrates the heart of God – a heart so full of love (God IS love!) that the Creator embodied in order to move into our neighborhoods and make contact with lost humanity. Of course, this is how God operated from the beginning, even strolling through the primal garden seeking a lost and confused Adam and Eve (Gen.3.8).  “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’ (Is.65.1).” 
If indeed we are called to follow Christ, then we are called to follow the example set from the beginning.  Make contact.  Aggressively love.  Seek the lost. 

I found Jesus when a humble, patient soul continued to seek time with me, to bear my insults when she would tell me about the Bible.  She persistently invited me to join with her and her Christian friends even when I ridiculed them with language that would embarrass most heavy metal mavens.  When I finally consented to visit church with her she was willing to drive a total of 120 miles (round trip) to get me there.  It takes sacrifices to make contact.  I gave my heart to Jesus on my first trip to church, but it took over one year of persistent, aggressive, patient loving friendship and invitation. 

Most North Central Conference church members know mostly other church members or family and friends that they have often invited to know Christ.  The challenge for many of us is that of making contact with people we do not know who may not have discovered the great joy of peace and purpose, family healing and eternal life that flows from the Holy Spirit upon entering into a vital relationship with God through Christ. 
Looking with the eyes of Christ, however, you discover the people in your community who in fact you may not meet by accident, who will not stumble into your living room for a Bible study, and who will assume your church is not the right place for them.  Prayerfully ask Jesus for eyes to see and ears to hear the needs around you.  It is at the point of meeting a need that we have the best opportunity to communicate the love of God, which is winsome. 

North Central Conference churches – love your community by making contact at a point of a need.  Where are the isolated immigrants? The incorrigible youth? The lonely elderly?  The muddled addicts?  The kids who need somewhere safe to play?  The business leaders looking for real purpose?  The marriages on the rocks?  None of our churches, and none of our individual disciples of Jesus can see or meet all of the needs of everyone.  Start with one need you can meet, and be God’s hand of grace in that instance. Make contact. Persist.  Win a heart. Win your community.  Win the world.

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