ODJ: the front porch

April 30, 2015 

READ: Matthew 9:9-13 

Love is patient and kind (1 Corinthians 13:4).

In some hills of America’s mid-South region, much of life is lived on the front porch. Neighbours stop by unannounced for a glass of sweet tea or cup of coffee. No invitation is ever necessary.

And then, the stories start getting told. They’re much better heard in person. The tree-lined ridges limit mobile phone coverage anyway, so you may as well walk on over and visit awhile!

The measured pace of life in the hills has an appealing quality. People truly know each other, warts and all. It’s because they spend time together. And, for the most part, they accept each other. “He’s good people,” they’ll say as a neighbour ambles on back home.

I was raised in a church that believed in telling as many people about Jesus as quickly as possible. Those intentions were noble. But the emphasis simply seemed to be to hear them say a prayer of salvation.

Jesus modelled a better way. He told His followers to “go and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). But He didn’t give us precise instructions on how to do that. He did, however, give us His example. He invested time in people: moments to converse with a woman at a well (John 4:4-42); time to eat dinner at a reviled tax collector’s house (Matthew 9:9-13); time to bless little children (Mark 10:13-16). And don’t forget the 3½ years invested with His disciples. He didn’t just do ministry—He lived it!

—Tim Gustafson

365-day-plan: Nehemiah 5:1-19

Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 and see what it says about establishing loving relationships. 
Are you prone to want to get rid of people when they drop by to talk? How can you creatively find ways to listen to people and truly get to know them?