This is the audio recording of the second reading of week eight of Start, entitled Our Purpose Looks Like Blessing.
“Ordinary love, anonymous and unnoticed as it is, is the substance of peace on earth, the currency of God's grace in our daily life.”
In this week’s first reading, we read about how we are called to share our stories as we experience more and more of God’s love, grace, and blessing. We see in Genesis 12 that God’s grace and goodness to us are for the benefit of us and others. “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great so that you will be a blessing,” God says to Abraham. The more we realize what has been done for us, the more it can naturally spill out onto those around us.
Seeing mission as our natural response to what’s been given to us can take the pressure off what may seem awkward or pushy. Understanding that you are uniquely placed at your work, school, or neighborhood to be a blessing to those around you can bring more profound meaning and intentionality in the day-to-day. This can include anything from taking a meal, writing a note of encouragement, or serving as a volunteer. We can view these things not as just ‘nice things to do’ but as an active way to join God in the work of the Kingdom. When we regularly engage in practically caring for others, we are actively living out our Kingdom purpose of blessing.
Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Often we think of mission or evangelism as convincing people of the truth of the gospel. More often, a mission demonstrates the difference Jesus makes in your life and earns the right to be heard. The truth of Jesus is more readily received and considered when the trustworthiness of His followers is earned. If Jesus isn’t making a difference in your life, why would others want to consider following Him? But, when others see that we act differently, they are naturally curious about our motivation or strength.
The following acronym is a helpful tool for engaging in spiritual conversations in a manner that shows God’s love and our love for others:
Begin with Prayer
Share your story
B- Begin with prayer
God is the one who saves people, not us. We must remember the truth of Romans 1:16 that the power of salvation comes from God, not in our ability to win well-crafted arguments or deliver convincing apologetics. We want Him to draw us into relationships with those open to hearing His truth and responding in faith. And we want to access the power of salvation by calling on the Holy Spirit to do the work of changing hearts. As we pray for open doors and open hearts, we also pray for ourselves that we will be loving and kind to those we meet. We invite people to experience God for themselves when we ask them if we can pray with them and for them and their concerns. When we pray, we surrender dependence on our ability and let God show up and do transformational work.
Sharing God’s truth is critical (see Romans 10:17). However, we must be willing to listen to others before we can hope to earn the right to share with them. As you build relationships, seek to be a great question-asker. Resist the urge to turn conversations to you and your interests. Show interest in the lives of those you meet, especially their families, careers, and hobbies. If we are listening only to earn the right to be heard, then our listening is disingenuous and manipulative. We must ask God for a heart of genuine love towards those we are trying to reach, and if we have that love, we will have a real interest in listening to them. Listening to others gives us a sense of their passions, hopes, fears, and struggles. Listening will help us develop relationships that will eventually make sharing our faith easy and natural.
In the ancient world, sharing a meal was a sign of deep intimacy and friendship. In today’s culture, there’s still power in friends eating together. Sharing life is more than sharing information. None lack access to information in a world of Internet search engines and smartphones. But that information doesn’t come with a friendship. Meals and other social gatherings together help bridge the gap between acquaintance and friend. Invite people into your home or meet a coworker for lunch or a drink. Food and drink have the power to be significant catalysts that accelerates the growth of relationships.
Look for opportunities to serve those around you. What are the practical needs of your neighbors, co-workers, and friends? You don’t need to try to meet every need you see (and you shouldn’t try!), but as you seek to build relationships, pay particular attention to how you can serve those around you. Service is a way to extend the generous love God has shown us practically.
S- Share your story
You will have chances to share your story as you pray, listen, eat, and serve. There might be a situation where you can share your whole story all at once, or there might be circumstances where sharing part of your story is relevant. If you’re unsure what to say, just talk about your personal experience of God’s love. Talk about how you felt when you were invited to be with Him. Share the difference Jesus has made in your life. Tell them how much joy, peace, love, power, and purpose you discover in a relationship with Jesus. Our job is to invite, and the Holy Spirit’s job is to convict. When opportunities arise, be bold, courageous, and winsome. If the idea of sharing your story is scary, practice it and pray about it. Sharing something near and dear to us is almost always a vulnerable experience, but God can and will give you the strength to share with courage, conviction, and kindness.
Remember, how someone responds to and receives your story is ultimately up to God. It is our responsibility to share our stories with Christ-like love. Also, remember that we are called to love others regardless of how they respond to our stories. It’s possible that you could share your story with a friend, and they make it clear that they have no interest in Christianity. You can (and should!) still love them as God has called you to love.
- What is your initial reaction to the B.L.E.S.S. strategy? How does this purpose of being a blessing widen your definition of mission?
- Think about the environments you are in every day. Who are the people that you naturally connect with? This week, pick one person to pray for and look for opportunities to listen to them. If possible, invite them to share a meal!
- Take some time to think about this concept of B.L.E.S.S. for your community. What could it look like for your group to B.L.E.S.S. others regularly? How will you stay aware of your purpose to be a blessing and avoid hoarding all God’s goodness for yourselves?