If we're going to follow Jesus, we'll need to climb a tree, get around the crowd and take Jesus into our home.
Last Sunday, we talked about our desire for more and that following Jesus means living in his kingdom rather than continuing to build our own. In praying for our response to what Jesus said to us, I'm concerned that some of us might think that living for more is impossible because our lives are busy and we can't afford to do more than what we're doing right now.
So let's make sure we're on the same page with Jesus. First, ask him how he wants you to live for the big kingdom. Second, pick up a copy of Paul Tripp's book A Quest For More and take notes. Third, remember that your everyday life matters to Jesus.
Living for the big kingdom is about how we listen and respond to Jesus in the next ten minutes.
What does that look like? We have a rhythm of life that we call BLESS that helps us follow Jesus by loving the people God has put around us. I think it provides five ways for busy people to live for more:
- B - Begin with prayer. The next time you're in between tasks, take a few minutes to pray for the people and situations going on around you; ask for help to live beyond your natural wisdom and energy. Prayer both primes the pump for the rest of your life and is the single most powerful and effective way to change the world around you.
- L - Listen. Be curious and pay attention to what's happening around you. Perhaps that means reading the news or reading a mom blog. More likely, it's listening and looking out for the places where life simply isn't the way it's supposed to be.
- E - Eat. You're going to eat a few times today. Once a week, have a meal with someone who is different than you. That might be someone younger or older than you; could be someone at work who looks different than you; might be someone who doesn't know Jesus. Start with people you think you'd get along with. Ask questions. Learn their story. Encourage them.
- S - Serve. As you're spending time praying, listening and asking questions, you'll probably see places that you can help them. The simple act of picking up an extra shift, taking kids to school, providing childcare so mom and dad can get away for a few hours, and a million other things that help the people around you - this is big kingdom living.
- S - Share. Following Jesus by living for the big kingdom is a curious life. It's the life we were all made to live. How will you respond when someone thanks you for helping them or wonders why you wanted to grab coffee?
Jesus reminds us that real, everyday life can be summarized as love for God and for neighbor. God in his wisdom and providence has put the particular people around us that he intends for us to care for. And while there is something familiar about this notion of loving people, we've learned as a church that all of us struggle to go about this task with clarity and confidence.
So with the notion that principles are strengthened by sound practice, we are learning to live out the principle of loving our neighbor by implementing a practice we call BLESS:
There is nothing more loving than telling the people around you about God and a love that does not press towards sharing God's story is incomplete. We were made to know God and our friendships are evidence of this desire to know and be known; so in our relationships we know that God is at work and is reminding us that we were created to be with him.
I also find that it can be difficult to know when to talk about God with our friends. Here are three hints from the world of improv*:
- Listen. Rather than jamming our God talk into a conversation, slow down and listen without listening for anything. Take in anything and everything someone says as an offer you can do something with.
- Say 'Yes and.' Take what your friend has offered in conversation and present an even bigger set of options.
- Make your friend look good. Your conversation is not an argument to win but an invitation to find solutions that were not previously imagined.
In improv, you never try to get someone to do something. That's coercion. Improv allows you to take a journey where previously unknown possibilities emerge. And we're not talking about some kind of cheap parlor trick - we listen because God is always and already at work in the life of our friends; we say 'yes and' as often as possible because the good news we call the gospel pervades all of life and opens up new ways of thinking, feeling, living; we can make our friend look good because the reputation of Jesus does not depend on our ability to convince people that we are right.
One last thing: if the gospel pervades all of life and every one of us needs to hear good news in the course of everyday life, then these kinds of conversations aren't limited to what we call 'evangelism.' I find this is helpful for those of us who freak out about talking about God to friends who are not followers of Jesus. One way to become more comfortable in our conversations with non-Christians is to be intentional in our conversations with people who are already Christians.
*This is taken from chapter 8, 'Improvise', in Daniel Pink's To Sell Is Human. You should pick up a copy.