Jesus commanded His believers to go and preach the Gospel and make disciples of all the nations. We want to fulfill the mission but how? Here are some lessons we can learn from Jesus Himself.
I will always remember the friends who first brought me to church. They were the girls that I spent a lot of time with in school, sharing our food and hearts. They would also share Jesus with me once in a while, so when their church organized a youth event, they invited me and I went. The rest was history.
Many now-Christians first stepped into a church because their friends invited them, and they stayed in the church because they made more friends there.
Proverbs 11:30 tells us that “he who wins souls is wise.” The New Living Translation puts it this way: “a wise person wins friends.” I would think that a wise person would choose to fulfill the Great Commission that Jesus gave, by first making friends. This, of course, doesn’t mean that we make friends for the sole purpose of bringing them to church, or that if they reject us, we forget about them and move on to the next “target”. It simply means that we must first be interested in their lives before we earn the right to share Jesus with them.
In Luke 10, Jesus taught his disciples His way of winning people:
BLESS THE UNCHURCHED
Luke 10:5 reads, “But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’” Being kind with our words will make us more winsome when we want to make friends.
To “bless” means to “find something to speak well of, to encourage, to praise.” It is human nature to judge others who are different—yes, even Christians do it. Our first reaction to seeing someone living the lifestyle we don’t agree with is usually to judge. But Jesus taught us to be kind and tactful in our words and our tone of voice. This is definitely a good first step to any relationship.
BUILD A RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM
Jesus told the disciples to “remain in the same house” in Luke 10:7. This means that we don’t just add them on Facebook and Instagram and then forget about them.
You may think, “Who has the time to make friends these days? I don’t even have time to catch up with my old friends!” But the Bible tells us that Jesus spent time making friends everywhere He went, and that was how He touched their lives. He went to Zacchaeus’ house for a meal and changed the tax collector’s life forever. He took time to talk to the Samaritan woman by the well and transformed her life as well. He did all these in the midst of His busy preaching schedule.
Jesus did all this because of love. The Bible says we must make love our aim in life (1 Cor 14:1), when we do that, we too will be willing to accept others and give our time to develop friendships with them.
MEET THEIR NEEDS
“To find a hurt and heal it, find a need and meet it.” This is what Pastor Kong Hee, senior pastor of City Harvest Church, always taught the church.
This was inspired by the way Jesus lived. Jesus’ next instruction to the disciples was to “heal the sick there” (Luke 10:9). When we go out of our way to meet the needs of others, we show them that we care. Who won’t want to be friends with people who care?
Sometimes, the needs of our friends may be too difficult for us to meet alone. That’s when we engage the help of our church community. Maybe the university students in your cell group would be able to help tutor your secondary school classmate who’s failing in class. Or the mothers in your cell group can form a support group for your colleague who is a single mom. When we get creative, we can find many ways to help the people around us.
Notice that Jesus didn’t say, “Tell the sick, ‘I’ll be praying for you’’; He said, ” heal the sick.” Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit for this very reason: to heal the sick and cast out demons. When we tap into the power of the Holy Spirit to do miracles, we are showing people a glimpse of heaven. And that is almost a sure way to get people interested in Jesus.
PREACH THE GOSPEL
Jesus’ instruction was quite clear. Only after the disciples blessed the lost, made friends with them and met their needs could they share the Gospel.
One of the best ways to share the Gospel, I find, is to share my own story. Everyone loves a good story! Especially one with a happy ending. And sharing your salvation story is easier than you think.
I usually start with an issue I was facing before I knew God—my issue was low self-esteem, in case you’re wondering—and how it affected my whole outlook of life. Then I would move on to sharing my experience of hearing the Gospel and giving my heart to Christ. Finally, I’d share how my life changed after receiving Christ. The story will usually end with my happily ever after with Jesus.
Many people choose not to reach out to their friends because of fear. “What if they reject me?” “What if they laugh at me?” “What if they don’t receive salvation?” We put so much pressure on ourselves, thinking we need to get them saved. We forget that Jesus is their Savior, not us. Our job is just to share our story with them and invite them to church. God will do the rest.