So, last time, we talked about what do your neighbors think. What does your life, your family, your priorities tell them about church?
Now let’s talk a bit about what your neighbors should think. What would make Jesus happy to have your neighbors thinking about you and thinking about your church
I think the first thing they should think or actually know is that you don’t have it all together. You don’t have the perfect life, you don’t have it all together, you don’t have all of the answers. You struggle, you have problems, you’re a real person with real flaws. It is counter productive to try to pretend that everything is “perfect” when we all know it isn’t.
After that, they should know that even though you don’t have all of the answers, shoot you don’t even have half of the answers to life’s struggles, you have something different. You have the final answer and the answer that makes all of the difference. You have a personal relationship with the one who matters. You have a personal relationship with Jesus as the one who makes all of the “stuff” that we deal with every day eventually go away.
I have often used the analogy comparing our lives to WWII after D-Day. We knew the end result. We knew that we were going to defeat the evil of Nazi Germany. But we knew that there was a LOT of pain, a LOT of suffering and a LOT of death and dying between the two – between when we knew and when it was actually over.
This world is kind of like that. We know the final answer. We know that Jesus has ultimately defeated Satan and that ultimately evil will be banished and good will triumph. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be a lot of pain and suffering in between now and then. There will be a lot.
But since we know the final answer, we can face struggles and the trials of life with a different outlook. Even though we don’t know the answers, we know the One who knows the answers.
That gives us a sense of peace and a sense of confidence that will, if lived transparently enough, make your neighbors say, “I want what he’s got.” “I want to not lay awake at night worrying about losing my job.” “I want to have the peace that comes even when things are tough.”
That’s when our neighbors become more open to hearing words about our church. Words about our one hope. Words about why we have “something different.”
Oh, and the next time you see your neighbor, ask yourself – does he look like me? Nope. Everyone is different and everyone has different struggles and different challenges. Many times, people have been hurt by the church because they are “different” and because of that difference, they felt excluded. Jesus ate dinner with tax collectors and prostitutes. If He did that, surely we can welcome people wearing jeans and people who have tattoos.
Or people who disagree with us about politics.
Or people who have lifestyles that don’t match ours.
Or even people who work for the IRS.
God’s Church would be better for it. People would be blessed by it.
And I dare say that you’d be blessed by it too. Try it some time.