A pretty clear mandate
Yes, our mandate from Jesus in Matthew 22:36-39 is clear: Love God, love people.
Could it be that simple?
“We may have complicated evangelism by separating the Great Commandment from the Great Commission. Loving God and loving others is the foundation of the Great Commission.” (The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations, ©2016, Tyndale)
How to start
Love is where evangelism begins. To make disciples of people outside our church doors, we start by loving them, building authentic friendships based on ordinary life circumstances and proximity (our neighborhoods, local coffee shops, workplaces, gyms, golf courses, and preschool play groups). Actively loving those we have noticed in these environments is what God is asking us to handle.
You are free to build loving relationships!
A few years ago, Kathy would have told you that she didn’t know any of her neighbors–that as a believer, she was all about her own input, not output.
But with a nudge from her pastor and with a desire to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit’s voice inside her, Kathy was compelled to begin to love. In her own words, “I began living in my neighborhood like Jesus would, and today I have growing, close relationships with my neighbors!” Courageously, she stepped out into her neighborhood to notice and listen to those right around her. She meets regularly with one woman who is “just so lonely” and has ice cream with a group of others weekly!
Kathy says that living intentionally this way has been the “single most stretching and maturing event in her life. I’m changed forever.”
Pastor John’s story
As much as John’s work as a pastor centered around shepherding his own congregation and empowering them to love in Jesus’ name, he knew that right on his own street, there were people he could love. So John made the decision to love those on his own block by intentionally building relationships with them.
And over time, they’ve gotten to know each other and have a BLAST spending intentional time meeting regularly to discuss spiritual things!
Yes! John says he is having the time of his life with his Jewish neighbor, “a few atheists, and angry Catholics,” and is experiencing great joy as he sees God work in his own life as well as theirs.
“Love is fun! I now remember why I got into ministry in the first place.”
Your story, too
Loving others becomes the building block of trusting relationships with almost anyone, no matter what they believe about God.
And anyone can love.
Do you want your ordinary life to have extraordinary impact? Each of us can notice, listen to, pray for, welcome, and enjoy simple conversation with those around us.
Oh. And about sharing the gospel.
Historically, Christians have considered sharing their faith as the exclusive practice of evangelism, often bypassing love to leap to the action of sharing the gospel. However, love is what lays the foundation to create the safe environment for sharing the good news about Jesus. Just follow the Holy Spirit’s lead in respecting the relational process and He will open the door.