“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” – John 3:17
A few decades ago (!) I found some unique “Christmas cards” that I couldn’t resist.
The front did not look like a Christmas card, but had a photo of four teenagers that could be described as “alternative.” Dressed in black from head to toe, they had spiked hair, tattoos, piercings, and angry, rebellious expressions on their faces. Inside it simply said, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” – John 3:17
The feedback I got was pretty consistent. Friends told me that their first reaction was “Wha — ???” They wondered what in the world I was thinking. Was this a joke? Then as they opened it, the light came on. Of course. Jesus came for everyone, including (especially?) these lost souls. One friend said the card had given her a gentle rebuke from the Lord.
I am as guilty as the next person of thinking in stereotypes. I make comparisons, often based on my own insecurities. It doesn’t take much for me to feel inferior, whether it’s another woman who’s stylishly dressed with perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect nails, and (I assume) perfect everything else – or someone who looks as though she devotes little or not time to her looks and somehow tumbles out of bed just looking naturally cool. I am repeatedly reminding myself that when I make comparisons or assumptions, I could miss out on something special.
One of my daughter Joanna’s best friends in high school was a Christian girl who did not fit the usual image of a “Christian girl.” With her black lipstick and nail polish, black clothes, and unconventional haircut, she looked more like the kids on the Christmas card. I was proud that my daughter had taken the time to get to know her, and learned that this “look” was actually a strategy for reaching out to kids that most church people would avoid – and vise versa. Joanna thought this was pretty cool. I did, too.
I offered to take the girls to the mall one day, since they really wanted to go, and neither of them was driving yet. (Besides, I liked them.) As we were walking through the mall together, Joanna’s friend gave me an odd look.
“Is something wrong?” I asked.
“You’re walking with us,” she said. Suddenly I felt extremely “un-cool.” I was cramping their style!
“– I’m sorry! Would you like me to leave you two alone?”
“Oh no!” she hastily reassured me. “It’s just that my mom usually walks behind me and pretends she doesn’t know me.” She smirked. I laughed, realizing that her mom was one of those “together” people I had always felt inferior to. I could tell by the look on Joanna’s face that this time I was the cool mom, and I proudly continued walking with them.
Have you ever seen someone who is different from you and assumed they wouldn’t be interested in you or anything you have to offer? DON’T ASSUME! Prayerfully consider how you might approach that individual with the gospel – or just a friendly exchange. You might be pleasantly surprised at the response you get from someone who may have done some assuming of his own. The mutual “pleasant surprise” might affect the people around you, too. How often do you see a “cool” teen interacting with an elderly person in public? Or a preppy kid sharing a laugh with a kid dressed in an “artsy” style? How often do you see a pastor reaching out to an alcoholic on the street, or a churchy lady expressing love for a woman employed in the “adult entertainment” industry? Would such a sight make you curious about what they’re talking about? Some of my most amazing encounters have happened at a gay pride parade, a cancer ward, or a soup kitchen.
DON’T LIIMIT GOD! Ask Him to send you where He wants you to go, and watch for His hand at work in your life. And don’t worry about what you’ll say, He has told us not to.
” … don’t worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given to you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Hoy Spirit.” Mark 13:11
Prayer: Father in Heaven, who gave Your only begotten Son to save all of us, help us not to try to put limits on Your power. If we have put You in a box in our minds, help us to open the box and give You full reign in our lives. Send us where You want us to go. May we encounter the people You want us to interact with, today and every day. In Jesus’ name, amen.