My Mission to Say Yes
Long before I wrote any books or our ministry built a live streaming network, we ministered to others in an apartment. I referred to these gatherings as family meetings because they were a place to grow close to one another. In addition to prayer and fellowship, the meetings included Bible lessons and discussions.
One of the lessons I taught back in 2013 was on building relationships. At that point in time, I had just quit my job and was saying yes to any opportunity to meet new people. If someone said, “You want to come to church with us? or We’re going to the movies, want to come?” My response was always Yes (as long as it didn’t break the law or my convictions).
Below is the lengthy lesson I wrote that we discussed in one of our family meetings regarding building relationships with unbelievers. Looking back at something I wrote six years ago about Jesus allows me to see how my gift for writing has improved but also how my relationship with Christ has as well. ( I have left the lesson unchanged and unedited for those who have been reading my writings can see how far God has brought me)
Any relationship a person has with Christ should be followed by life changes. Fruits of the spirit like joy, peace and patience should begin to bloom. Vision and direction should guide you away from your old life and towards the new one God created and designed specifically for you (Ephesians 2:10). If you still look the same you did six years ago and not much has changed something then your relationship with Christ should be evaluated. Ask yourself or better yet ask God why nothing has changed? After all, His word describes that your life should change and become new after Christ comes into our lives (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Most of us don’t consider our faith a religion, but rather a relationship with God. Our entire life is shaped by relationships. Everything from who raises us and who we choose to surround ourselves with now can have dramatic influences on our past, present and future.
An ongoing discussion in our group continues to be our relationships with unbelievers. We have discussed how our attitudes and development of these different relationships correlate with our different personalities and gifts, but also our own personal relationship with God that impacts our other relationships.
We have referred to verses that describe Jesus eating with sinners (Mark 2:13-17; Luke 5:27-39). We have also noticed that Jesus calling sinners to repentance seems to be at odds with verses that describe our friendships with and also reasons why we should maintain distance from unbelievers. (1st Cor 5:11; 2nd Cor 6:14, James 4:4, 2 Thes 3:6).
The Great Commission
Matthew 28:16-20 “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
If it the job of believers to be both on the Earth (but not of the Earth) and to be salt and light to all unbelievers, how can we do those things while still maintaining our distance?
We do it by always entering or maintaining any possible relationship with a non-believer with the knowledge and focus of asking for God’s grace to keep you from temptation and the grace and opportunity to lead them to Christ. However, our closest friendship, the people we surround ourselves with most of the time should be limited to believers.
Let’s look at the definition of these words for insight.
Commission - A job or task given to a person or a group, especially an order to produce a particular product or piece of work.
Mission-an important goal or purpose that is accompanied by strong conviction; a calling or vocation
So, it our job to help others find Christ (produce a product) and we shouldn’t take it lightly (strong conviction) because it is also our purpose (calling).
Have you ever been on a mission? I sometimes say, “I’m on a mission to find something” while I’m shopping or when I’m occupied solely with finishing a task. When I am on a mission there is nothing else in my mind that can penetrate what I am trying to accomplish. This mission minded focus is a person’s driving force to finish the task they have set out to accomplish. This same focus should translate into our relationships with non-believers. Not trying to preach to them every time you see them but rather, realizing the reason you have that relationship is to help lead them to Christ.
We shouldn’t have to go have a drink with someone to have a conversation or relationship with them. Similarly, we don’t need to bring them to church to show them God.
The discussion or case for both sides is always going to be fought, and opinions on which way is better to witness to someone will continue forever, but the point gets lost somewhere. We are focused too much on what we are doing and lose sight on the fact that it’s not about us, it’s about the lost lives of those we are around. Believers should begin to knowingly enter all relationships with unbelievers to complete our task of being a light to the path of Jesus. We shouldn’t avoid new relationships with unbelievers altogether. We also shouldn’t pick and choose who we are around because one unbeliever seems more likely to be saved than the other.
Say yes to every opportunity, within reason, to meet new people. (You don’t break the law/your own convictions or go out if you can’t afford to do what they are doing) If you see an opportunity to go somewhere with someone, or get invited to something a little out of your comfort zone, take some time to invest your light in the life of an unbeliever.
When we get asked to do something as a Christian whether it is with a believer or a non-believer we shouldn’t “find excuses” not to go every time. Just because we don’t want to or don’t think its cool or whatever. We use excuses like I’m tired, I work, I just don’t feel like it, I’m just going to stay home. We should change our thinking get up, go out and build that relationship, IT IS WHAT GOD CALLED US TO DO! It is IMPOSSIBLE to be a witness from the couch!!
God revealed to me why He sort of instructed me to go and do everything I was invited to. It wasn’t because I didn’t have a job anymore and needed something to do, but rather to build relationships. It gave me the opportunity for you to believe my behavior was in line with my words. It also led to many encounters and relationships I would’ve never had the chance to have otherwise.
Our relationships with unbelievers should stay focused on the task at hand too. Not every conversation needs to be about Jesus, but we do need to recognize and know the truth of that relationship. The number one reason to have a relationship with an unbeliever is to hopefully lead Christ into that person’s life.
We need to know/or keep in mind that our behavior is the number one way we witness to people.
Actions speak louder than words; it’s not just a cliché, but a bible verse about our mission.
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18
So a good witness doesn’t always come from saying or talking about or putting up fb posts about how God is awesome, or is so good. We all know people that say or post things about Jesus that they don’t have conviction behind.
So how do we be a witness without talking? Our behavior
Not just our perceived behavior, and I’m guilty of this myself sometimes, about drinking, cursing, living with someone, smoking or other “perceived” sins. Our behavior is directly correlated with our relationship with God. As we follow His instructions for our life, as we will build a stronger foundation and better relationship with HIM then He will show us how to have a better relationship with everyone around us.
That isn’t to say our words don’t matter. They absolutely do. And part of our relationships will be to use our words to share Jesus vocally in these relationships when the opportunity presents itself. At the same time if we are walking around saying God is almighty and declaring things openly to non-believers about how I’m broke, or I hate my job or other negative comments that aren’t true, we are not being light, and keeping our focus on the truth of these relationships will help our tongues be bridled. We will begin declaring our faith instead saying things like God is going to heal me, or provide me with rent money even though I don’t have it yet.
Remember the point of all of this is to keep our relationship with Christ our number one focus. He will then guide you into opportunities to be a light, steer you clear of paths and people you should avoid. Give you grace to overcome temptation in situations it may surround you.
Improve your relationship with God then you will improve your witness to and relationships with others!!!
John Simmons is the President of Testimony House Ministries. He writes a daily blog for Testimony House each week day. He is the author of God Has a Sentence for Your Life and Finding Faith. Follow John on social media @newjohnsimmons. You can also watch John hosts various live streaming programs on the Testimony House Network each week.