In Week 3, our theme verse was from Matthew 9:36:
“When he saw the crowds, he felt deep concern for them. They were treated badly and were helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
We asked this simple question, “Where did we get the idea that we should be talking to people that are in proximity to us?” The answer was that we got the idea from Jesus. It’s what He did on a regular basis, wherever He went.
In Matthew 9 alone, there are 7 encounters that Jesus had with people. At a minimum, He talked with them AND listened to them. He enjoyed people…sinful people…that He loved. These are the people…all people…that He had come to redeem and restore to the kingdom of God. He continues to do this through us…bringing the redemptive presence and activity of God to human lives. Only Jesus can redeem and restore. Yet, he invites us join His redemptive and restorative work in simple, but important ways.
This means that we are invited to genuinely enjoy people like Jesus did and not simply “put up with them.” Really loving our neighbor (anyone who isn’t you!) doesn’t ignore them or simply put up with them. Real love enjoys their neighbor and is a friend to their neighbor. So, we press deeply into God’s grace and we extend friendship to our neighbor.
This practice of talking with people happens in many ways. It can be done by introverts and extroverts, honoring the relational pace with which God has wired us. Ask for the person’s name, find out where they’re from, and invite them to tell their story. Listen for what they are ready for. Take it one conversation at a time.
REMEMBER: Jesus can do more with 2 people who are talking with each other than with 2 people successfully ignoring each other! So, what kind of conversations are you having with the people around you? How is Jesus inviting you to respond?