I’ve worked in Christian ministry ever since I graduated from college. I go to a Christian school, I am friends with other Christian students, and I attend a Christian church. Until the past year, I lived in Colorado Springs — basically the Protestant version of Vatican City. My life is very “Christiany.” Most people in my world are middle class and suburban, not physically poor or needy, not the type of people Jesus seemed to spend much of His time with when He was here on earth.
In some ways my Christiany life is nice — I have good fellowship and people to talk with about theology, people who I know are filled with the Holy Spirit, people I know I can relate to. But sometimes this very Christian life that I live keeps me from reaching out or getting to know non-Christians or people outside my comfort zone. Because of my work, school and church schedule, I rarely come into contact with people who do not share my faith. But my living in my Christian bubble seems very far from the Great Commission, very far from the life Jesus seemed to want His disciples to lead.
A while back, there was an article from RELEVANT Magazine written for people who live in a suburban world and don’t often come across the poor and needy, but I think it can be relevant for all of us who are called to share the Gospel of Jesus in big and small ways. The article suggests getting to know the people at your local grocery or Target store, taking a jog in a new neighborhood, becoming friends with the barista at your coffee shop, volunteering to coach, getting to know the elderly at a nursing home, becoming a foster parent, etc. Although my work and school don’t provide many opportunities for me to get to know non-Christians or people outside my comfort zone, I interact daily with people at the gym or the grocery store.
Last year I had the opportunity to volunteer with a mentoring program for refugees here in Denver. A few of us spent six months getting to know a family who had just moved to America from Kenya. We visited them weekly, helped them navigate the grocery stores (imagine going to somewhere like Wal-Mart when you’re used to a small village!), and just got to know them on a personal level. It was a commitment — we visited often, and the family lived on the opposite side of Denver. But it was worth it. This family was precious, and in a very small way, we were able to help make their transition to the United States easier. It was uncomfortable at times, but I truly felt as though I were serving as Jesus has asked me to.
I find lots of ways to make excuses for my lack of interaction with the poor, with the needy, with the spiritually bankrupt. I’m in Christian ministry, I tell myself. My writing and my schooling are helpful to the church. These things are true, but they are not an excuse. Jesus wanted us — me — to make disciples. He wanted me to show compassion for the poor, for the needy. There is a nursing home right by where I live. I’ve often thought that I should stop in and see if they need volunteers to visit with their residents. But I never have because I have school or work, or I need to get to the gym, or I just have to see the latest episode of Downton Abbey. They’re excuses. Excuses for me to not have to be uncomfortable, to not have to give up “my” time.
Our faith is about belief and action. It’s about sharing the good news of Jesus with a world in need. It’s about making disciples. I need to do a better job of making that faith a reality in my life.
What are some ways you share the Gospel with those around you? Are there things you could do to serve and love and share?
Copyright 2012 Denise Morris Snyder. All rights reserved.