A speaker at a recent missionary conference stepped on my toes. He described the vast opportunity we have to reach other nations for Christ is no further than our local college campuses. “In fact,” he said. “It’s even closer than that. There are people right in your local community who come from other nations.”
Not in my small town, I thought. Wrong, my alter-inner voice said. Think again.
Then a national children’s magazine asked me to write an article on diversity. I realized that diversity is more diverse than just ethnic differences. And I realized there are many people who are outside my grasp but within my reach if I just stretched a little further.
Isaiah 49:6 says, “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
In order to think big like God wants us to think, we have to move to a higher level of math. We have to think in His dimensions, not our own.
How do I do that?
Some of us consider our relationship with God as two-dimensional. It’s a straight line between me and God. We’ve got our own private thing going and I don’t feel comfortable in talking about it with anyone else.
Others of us see our relationship with God like a love triangle. There’s God at the top, I’m at another corner of the triangle. Those I feel comfortable with, my family, my friends, my church, are in the third corner. If we all work at building our relationship with God, we grow closer to each other. As I love others and move closer to them, my relationship with God strengthens.
True. But limiting.
Stay with that image of a triangle. Imagine there is is a circle in the middle, connected by a line to the top angle. Now pretend it’s a big tether ball. Here’s God’s plan. He wants you to grab on to that tether ball and treat it like a rope swing. He wants you to hang on tight to Him and let Him swing you outside the triangle. He wants you to leave the comfort of the triangle and let Him take you on a wild adventure so together, He and you influence others with the love of Christ.
How far is your reach? How is God using you to bring salvation to the ends of the earth – whoever that might be? Let’s check your numbers.
Grab paper and pencil and start calculating. How many people do you know who:
- Have a different ethnic background (English is their second language)
- Have a different socio-economic background
- Are un-churched
- Have an addiction
- Have an alternative lifestyle or live in a family structure outside the traditional context of marriage.
- Have a moderate to severe mental, emotional or physical challenge
If we are going to influence people for Christ, t’s not enough to just know people by name. Let’s go a few steps further. Give yourself the following additional points.
- If you call them by their first name – 1 point
- If you talk to them at least once a week – 1 point
- If they are a friend on Facebook – 1/2 point
- If they respond to your Facebook statuses – 1 point
- If you respond to their Facebook statuses – 2 points
- If you consider yourself a personal friend – 3 points
- If you have gone out of your way to do a kindness for them in the last month – 2 points.
- If you have prayed for them in the last week but 30 minutes before you read this blog. (Stopping to pray for them right now doesn’t count!) – 2 points
- Have had a deep spiritual conversation with them in the last month – 5 points.
Now, add up your score. How many points did you get?
- Less than 40 points – Your life wouldn’t even light up the inside of an oven
- 40-60 watts – Barely enough light to scare off the bad guys
- 60-100 watts – Enough light to let someone discern what a Christian is like – if they get close enough
- 100-300 watts – Your house is lit up! Pretty inviting. Enough to make the neighbors wonder what’s going on.
- More than 300 watts: You are flooding your neighborhood with the light of Christ. Congratulations.
Like tests of any kind, this one isn’t perfect. Some of you are surrounded by believers. Others of you work and live with folks different from you and you feel like you are barely hanging on to your own faith much less having much of an influence on anyone else.
Isaiah 60:1-3 says: “Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples. But the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”
If you let your light shine for Jesus and take your influence beyond the borders of your comfort zone, God will multiply your efforts, so those around you will see His glory through you.
You might not see how He is doing it. But He will do it. He promised.