The past few weeks, we have been challenged to seek out our neighbors who need Jesus. After examining the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, we understand that everyone around us is our neighbor. Whether they are next-door, a co-worker, a classmate, a friend, or a family member…they are a neighbor whom we are to love as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). To love them as we love ourselves, we must love them enough to care about their SOUL above everything else. This knowledge is the spark turned aflame into the “Who Is My Neighbor Program,” at the Buford church of Christ. Once we have made the conscious decision to INTERVENE in their lives as the Good Samaritan did, we have to START somewhere. That is the issue though, is it not? We know our neighbor NEEDS our help, NEEDS the knowledge of God’s Word we have, and NEEDS the truth…BUT, we do not know where to begin that journey to get them there.
The first step of the “Ten-Step Process” (as outlined in the program) is to INTRODUCE yourself. Regardless of which type of neighbor your goal is, we all must FIRST introduce ourselves to them. If we think we are going to be successful in bringing someone to Jesus without ever taking the initial step of even knowing the person’s name and them knowing ours, we are sadly mistaken. Sometimes, I am afraid we can be so timid that we sit around WAITING and hoping one day a soul will “fall into our lap” and beg us to tell them the truth. This is a mindset that wishes THEY would take the first initial step. The problem with this mindset is the fact that it is merely a fairy-tale. The chances and odds are…your next-door neighbor, co-worker, classmate, friend, or family member is NEVER going to take the initial step of opening this door randomly. This is a door and an opportunity WE must create and take. There is frankly not enough time to wait for THEM to make the first move. Sometimes we act as if we do not realize their soul is on the line, and time is of the essence. We must be willing to make the first initial move, and we can accomplish this by making introductions.
Depending on which neighbor you are pursuing, there is going to be a differing level of introduction required. For instance, if the neighbor you have decided to intervene with is a friend, co-worker, or family member…you may have known them for years. However, step one is intended for each of us to INTENTIONALLY spark or re-spark a deeper relationship with them regardless of the previous level of familiarity. The “Introduction,” step is supposed to be far more than merely exchanging names. This is the ground-breaking step that tears down the initial walls surrounding the usual brain-numbing conversation. You may know each other’s NAMES, but do you KNOW each other? There is a stark difference in knowing someone’s name and KNOWING someone. The introduction allows us to step onto the bridge above the river of unfamiliarity and cross to the other side into friendship.
As practical aids in this program show, it can truly be simple to accomplish step one. For a next-door neighbor, it is as easy as taking a dessert to their home and simply introducing your family to them. For a co-worker, it could be as easy as taking an interest in their lives you had not previously made. For a classmate, it is as easy as intentionally complimenting something about them or trying to relate to a common life-event you both share like a test, quiz, or big game coming up. For a friend, it can be as easy as reaching out to them to let them know you are always there for them. For a family member, it can be as easy as a phone call to catch up on each other’s lives. Regardless of the neighbor…step one is doable, attainable, and reasonable.
This step is by far, the simplest in the process. However, it is the very one many will refuse to do. This is because of the comfort zones or complacency dictating our lives. If we allow FEAR to mandate our decisions, we will never succeed in our pursuit of souls. The Apostle Paul said, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord…” 2 Timothy 1:7-8a. We must realize God did not send His Son to show us the perfect and ultimate example of a soul-seeker and soul-winner (Luke 19:10), for us to turn around and be timid, shy, and fearful in our evangelism. He sent His Son so we might be BOLD, because of the spirit of power, love, and sound mindedness Paul speaks of in this passage. When we allow fear to direct our lives, it could be that we are ashamed of the testimony of the Lord. This is the testimony that gives us CHRIST’S power, CHRIST’S love, and CHRIST’S sound truths. Therefore, we can be BOLD in our convictions and beliefs, knowing that it is because of our rootedness in Christ that we have such boldness.
When it comes to the journey, we each must take with our neighbors, we all have to START somewhere. Instead of waiting, hoping, and wishing THEY would make the first move…it is high time that WE would be proactive enough to take the first step. In the story of the Good Samaritan, the Priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan all knew the same thing…that the man who fell among thieves needed their help. The Priest saw the need and continued about his business. The Levite also saw the need and also continued about his business. The Samaritan not only saw the need but cared enough to take the first step of the journey to save his life. We too see the spiritual need in every neighbor we encounter. Will we care enough to take the first step of the journey to save their spiritual lives? Or will we continue to go about our own business? As we look at the SOULS of our neighbors…the choice is ours to make.
– Ben Hogan, Minister of Evangelism