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5 People You Need to Be Friends With

Church is dismissed and the rustling starts. Do you quietly sneak out the back doors of the sanctuary? Or do you stick around, finding ways to soak up the richness of the diversity of the body of Christ?

“For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body,” Paul reminds us (1 Corinthians 12:13a). As members of the body of Christ, we need one another (1 Corinthians 12:21-26).

Even so, we don’t always remember to interact with those different from us. Maybe it is time to reach out and see what wonders God will work in their lives and ours.

 

1. Get to know people in need

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)

Part of our calling as Christians is to care for those in need—be it financial, physical, emotional, or spiritual. We can start by looking over the church prayer list, or remembering to ask, “how can I pray for you?” in conversations. Perhaps we can be a prayer partner for someone who is struggling at their new job, or offer to accompany someone to their medical appointments.

More important than a one-time offer of help, is the willingness to walk faithfully with our brother or sister in Christ, journeying together through what ups and downs may come our way.

 

 

2. Invest in the little ones

Jesus told his arguing disciples, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me” (Luke 9:48).

Do we welcome the children who come to our church? Do we even know their names? Or do we consider them noisy nuisances that need to be shuffled off to Sunday school so they don’t get in the way?

Maybe we could learn the names of two or three children at church, look out for them to say “hi” on Sundays, and ask how their week went.

As we build these relationships and get to know their families, we may even offer to take the children on a Saturday outing. And perhaps one day, we may be privileged to hear them share how God has worked in their hearts.

 

 

3. Relate to the elderly

“Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.” (Proverbs 16:31)

It is often easier to surround ourselves with peers than to reach across age divides and befriend someone our parents’ or grandparents’ age. Try asking questions about their faith journey, or even what things were like when they were young.

For us, their rich experiences can offer us a surprising perspective. For older people, it can be meaningful to have a younger friend, especially if they don’t have family close by.

 

 

4. Connect with the family-less

“God sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6), and one of the ways He does so is through the church.

For those of us in a family—whether we live with parents, are married, or are raising children of our own—let’s invite others into our home.

Is anyone here on their own for work? Are there any students far from home? Do we have any single friends, young or old? Let’s invite them over for a family dinner. Get together for holidays. Ask them to join family outings.

While there can be wonderful freedom and flexibility for those living on their own, it’s important to be remembered and invited to the family table. It’s a simple way to ensure that everyone in the body is cared for.

 

 

5. Plug into growing families

“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:16)

Whether you’re single, an empty nester, or married without children, it would be worthwhile getting to know a growing family. To parents, you might be able to offer a sympathetic ear and supporting prayers on those days when they’re going through challenges. To children, your strengths and passions can inspire and encourage them in unique ways.

In addition to getting involved with family ministries, we can start striking up conversations with families after church, or sitting by them during fellowship gatherings and potlucks.

 

God brought together diverse brothers and sisters to be a part of His church. We’re missing out if we only hang out with people like us. Let’s step out and begin building relationships with more of our brothers and sisters. We will find that they can enrich our lives in ways we never expected!

To the Friend I Tried to Evangelize

“Evangelize.” It even sounds like a dirty word, doesn’t it? An act of pushing one’s religion on another. A prideful way to tell someone they’ve got it totally wrong. That their worldview is wrong. That their beliefs are wrong. That they’ve got everything wrong, and I’ve got it right.

That’s what evangelism sounds like to you, I think. And it’s hard to respond with anything that doesn’t sound like worn sentiment. “Oh, but my God is the real one.” “I don’t haughtily push my faith on others—I share it so they can know truth.” You think everyone says that about what they believe.

But my God is different. My God is real, and is worth knowing. Though recently, I’ve learned something valuable about sharing that with you.

You won’t ever take my word for it. And maybe that’s a good thing.

As we talk about faith, you ask if I think it’s just good luck that I was born into a country where the “right” religion is the dominant one.

You ask if I’ve considered the reality that if there truly wasn’t a god, humankind would probably construct one anyway. . . just to feel better about all of the big things we can’t understand. How do I know that’s not what has happened?

You ask hard questions. And I’ve tried to give thoughtful answers. I’ve prayed for wisdom to speak, for God to lead me to answers that will sway you.

But you won’t ever take my word for it, and I’ve finally realized why.

I’ve been thinking about it totally wrong. Words aren’t what you need.

Because I don’t think reasoning and unanswered questions are what’s actually holding you back.

You need to know a God who heals.

You need a reason for all of the pain you’ve been through.

. . . a purpose worth living another day for.

You need to know the all-reaching forgiveness that you’re offered—to believe that nothing you’ve done has made you unworthy of it.

Most of all, you need to be loved—to know true love that is whole, unwavering, and given freely by grace, not based on merit.

My efforts to evangelize by providing you with logical answers can’t do that for you.

So, I’ve got to re-shape my perspective on evangelism. I have to realize that my words won’t win you over. In fact, I have to accept that, until you come to the end of yourself and turn to God, you won’t be able to see my faith as anything but foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18).

I pray that the day would come soon, friend. I often ask God to work in your life in whatever way is necessary for you to realize that Christ fulfills the deep longing you’ve been wrestling with all your life.

But I can’t will that day into coming any sooner. So, in the meantime, I’ll keep praying, and I’ll start letting my life, instead of my well-intentioned wisdom, be a testimony to you.

You can watch how I work. I hope you see someone who works tirelessly to do a job well, even in a place that doesn’t treat us how it should (Colossians 3:23).

You can watch how I speak. I hope you see someone who considers the impact of her words before she releases them, and carefully avoids ones that give space to envy, spite, anger, or self-righteousness (Matthew 12:36).

You can witness how I treat others—especially the people you know I don’t get along well with. I hope you see a person who speaks to build others up and not tear them down, who chooses unity over words that cause division (Ephesians 4:29).

You can see how I spend my time, and I hope that you see someone who cherishes it as a gift and chooses to use it to serve others in my workplace, community, and social circles (1 Peter 4:10).

But most likely, you won’t always see these things. In fact, you’ll often be the first to see my shortcomings—how I fail to do each of the things above.

But in that, I hope that you notice where I turn when I fall short. I hope that you see I am quick to acknowledge when I’m wrong, and that you’ll witness me struggling against my sinful nature, longing to act and love in a more Christlike manner. Oh, you will certainly see how I am broken, and sinful, but I hope you see just as clearly, that I turn to God to help me be someone better.

I hope you’re able to see me, and know that anything good you see is grace from the perfect God I serve.

Now, my friend, as I seek to evangelize, I won’t focus on convincing you. Instead, I’ll try to live in a way that shows you that life with God is rich and purposeful. And when I speak, I’ll share stories about a life beyond the cynicism and despair so many are focused on. I will continue to share time and conversations and meals, and I will keep praying desperately that you find the hope which will anchor your soul (Hebrews 6:19).

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

5 Ways to Refocus Your Thought Life

Do you find it hard to take control of your thought life? Are you often besieged with negative thoughts, or find yourself constantly battling fears?

Paul wrote to the Philippians church, saying, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8-9). Sounds great, doesn’t it? But where do we even start?

Here are five quick pointers that can help us refocus our thought lives:


 

1. Purge the Bad Stuff

First things first. Is there anything we need to purge? Are there any TV shows, movies, songs, or novels that are drawing us into sinful thinking? While there is nothing inherently wrong with enjoying these things, let’s heed Paul’s warning, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 10:23).

We are easily tempted into envy, lust, comparison or even addiction. Is there something in your life right now that takes advantage of that weakness? If so, take a break from it. Not watching the next episode or missing the season finale of a TV show will not kill you. Instead, we can give that time to God and ask Him to work in our hearts.


 

2. Fill Up on What Is Beautiful

Once we’ve purged the bad stuff, it’s time to find something else to fill our time and our thoughts. We can look for things which are beautiful, which speak to our emotions and imaginations in meaningful ways. The very act of wonder and inspiration is a gift from God. He is the first creator of beauty (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Because of that, we can find things that portray what is true, noble, right, pure all around us. Let’s look for stories, songs, and art that inspire us and point our hearts to God!


 

3. Fill Up on What Is True

Just as our imaginations and emotions need to be filled with good art, our intellect needs to engage with knowledge and truth. We can do this by learning more about the world around us, as well as the One who created it all.

Have you ever wondered how heavy a cloud might be? Did you know that the moon completes a full rotation on its axis at exactly the same speed that it completes a rotation around the earth? That means we only ever see the same side of the moon from earth. Did you ever realize that peanut flowers blossom above ground, but the nuts grow in the dirt? There are so many tiny, unthinkable details God has put into place!

This world reveals God’s splendid handiwork (Psalm 19), and exercising our intellect and learning more about our world can lead us to a deepening awe of the Creator.


 

4. Fill Up on What Is Good

More important than feeding our imaginations and our intellect, we need to focus on our spiritual needs. In refocusing our thought life, what can be more important than turning our focus back to our relationship with God?

The best place to start is by simply reading the Bible, and seeking to understand it. That will really help us focus on who God is. Can you write out a list of His attributes? God is loving (1 John 4:8), always present (Hebrews 13:5-6), knows all things (Psalm 139:2), always in control (Matthew 10:29-31) . . . What else can you think of?

Now take a good look at that list, and ask yourself, how has God’s nature been apparent in your life recently? How has He shown His presence in your circumstances? In what ways has He reminded you of His love? Once we really start looking, we will be sure to find God’s fingerprints all over our lives.

Selectively digging into books and articles written by well-respected Christians may also challenge us to a deeper understanding of foundational truths.


 

5. Fill up on good conversations

Finally, one great way to refocus our thought life is to get in some great conversations with brothers and sisters in Christ. To jumpstart conversations, try asking questions such as, “What has God been doing in your life lately?” or, “What have you been learning in your Bible reading recently?” It’s exciting seeing how other people are connecting with God, and often, this inspires us in our own relationship with God as well.

Surely, hearing about God has been at work in the life of our friends is more interesting than debating over the fate of fictional characters or indulging in idle talk? So, even in the small details of our days, let’s make a point to dwell on things which are excellent!

Editor’s Picks: Best of “Why Do I Think?”

As we’ve spent the last three months looking at what it looks like to love God with all of our minds—we’ve been asking the question, “Why do I Think?”.