It’s one thing to talk a good game, but it’s entirely different to act out on it. This is the calling of the Christ-follower, though. We cannot just talk about loving people; we have to actually do it. And that requires intentionality!
Ryan Leak spoke on this very idea at The Orange Conference 2017 in a short but powerful main-stage message.
He started by sharing a staggering statistic that really hit the audience:
“92% of the miracles Jesus performed were outside of the Synagogue!”
Honestly, I think that alone is enough for the most of us to re-think what we do in our churches and ministries. If we are following Jesus’ example, shouldn’t we also be out in our communities more than we are inside our church walls? How would your personal walk with Christ change if you started to actually follow His example instead of just talking about His example?
Again, if we’re going to do it right, it takes intentionality, and Ryan spoke of three main ways we need to be intentional.
1. The places we go.
For some of us, this just means to get outside the church. For others, we are always on the move, but how often do we go places with the love on our minds? Typically, we’re just doing the next thing on our to-do list. If we are intentional about where we go, we will start to see people the way Jesus sees them, and we will start to see opportunities to love others like Jesus loves them.
2. How we listen.
Many times, we approach conversations with ourselves in mind. The truth is that there are people around us who are just waiting to be heard, crying out for someone to listen. We need to be intentional about how we listen to others — not looking for opportunities to put our two-cents in and share how we have a similar or better story, but looking for ways to truly hear them out and love them through it.
3. How we treat people.
Jesus was very clear that people will know we are His disciples by the way we love. Above all, love needs to be the main guide in how we interact with others. Paul even says in Philippians that our attitude should be the same as Jesus, who put others before Himself. If we are not intentional with how we treat people, how will the world see that a life with Jesus is any better than their life without Him?
Along the way, Ryan through out a challenge that really hit the audience:
“Ask every person who serves you: Do you have anything I can pray for?”
Ryan jokes that these are the perfect people to start with, because they’re the ones who get paid to give us attention. This could be the person in the drive-through or the person at a restaurant. It could be the cashier at a grocery or department store. Just ask them if there is anything for which you can pray. Then just sit back and watch God work.
This question is so simple and yet so intentional, and I think that it is exactly what Jesus wants us to do. We often over-complicate things. Yes, it’s not always the easiest thing, especially for those who are extreme introverts, but it is simple.
The other side of it, though, is that we actually need to pray about it! And when you do, the next time you encounter that person, follow up on their request. See how God has been working behind the scenes. Maybe you will even see your relationship develop into something beyond just server and customer: friendship.
So, will take this challenge with me? Let’s be intentional! Let’s begin to love our neighbors!
As you begin to do this, I would LOVE to hear your stories about what God does!! So please share them in the comments!
Ryan Leak is a young adults pastor, author, speaker, and filmmaker. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanleak.
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