Fellow Christian, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is this: people. Pure and simple…
Big people, little people, black, white, and asian people. Nice people, mean people, loud and soft-spoken people. Poor people, rich people…all people.
We are called to interact lovingly with our fellow citizens on this spinning planet we call home. We are to develop relationships— to guide, advise, serve, love, and influence.
But, as we do, there are some important things we need to remember. We must realize that the person who stands before us is not just like us. They have a different family background, a different history of belief, different personal influences and most certainly, different life experiences than us. They may also be a new believer or just on a different place on the spiritual growth continuum. God is constantly growing and perfecting us…using our experiences, both good and bad, to make us more like Him.
We must learn to see people through the eyes of Jesus. How is this possible? Well, we have lots of guidance in the Bible as we look to Jesus as our perfect example.
Here are 4 tips for impacting people in a positive and life-changing way:
- Love them where they are. Everyone is worthy of love. Jesus turned no one away and neither should we. New believers may feel uncomfortable in Christian circles. They may have never held the Word of God in their hands nor even read a single verse. Be patient with them and show them grace. And, remember that not every Christian is in the same place spiritually. Beating people over the head with your Bible to remind them of how they fall short, is not an effective strategy! “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2 (NIV)
- Overlook their faults and shortcomings. People who are new to a life in the Lord may still have bad habits that are hard to break. (Never mind the rest of us!) Show others mercy and forgiveness in the same measure that Christ has forgiven you. Those of us who have known the Lord for many years are often quick to judge our brothers and sisters for their failings, personality quirks, lapses in judgement, etc. Let’s not forget to search our own eyes for that telltale “stick” of imperfection before we condemn a brother or sister. In Mark 11:25 Jesus says this: “ And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”(NKJV)
- Point them to Jesus. Don’t make the mistake of turning that index finger towards yourself as a model of earthly perfection or life expertise. It is not your life that you want them to emulate but the life of Jesus, who was fully human, yet fully God. The greatest impact you and I could ever have on a person is to help lead them into a relationship with the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. It will not only change their earthly reality but, will change their eternity, as well! As Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:1-2: “Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, as an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”(NKJV)
- Stick to God’s Word. Although there is a time and place for sharing our own opinions, our primary guidebook in dealing with others should be the Word of God. As a matter of fact, it is a sin to add to or take away from it. The Bible contains “everything we need for life and godliness”. (2 Peter 1:3) It is full of wisdom regarding this life and… offers a glimpse into the next! Is there a place for Christian literature outside of the Bible? Of course, however, we must be careful to check the wisdom and guidance found therein against the Word of God. His truth, pure and simple, can, and does, change lives. “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)
Our mission, as Christians is to positively impact other people and to point them to Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 says this:
“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” (NKJV)
Let’s be the fragrance of Christ to the world as we exhibit mercy, patience, forgiveness, grace, and love– in relationship with our fellow human beings.
It is, after all, our mission…
A mission we must accept!