How we see and react to the people in our world who do not behave and believe like we do could be the truest indicator of how closely we are following the Jesus of the Bible. The following questions are intended to help you reflect on what it actually looks like to be “a friend of sinners” in today’s world. Prayerfully ponder each question before jotting down a number from 1 (Never) to 10 (Always) which best depicts your honest heart-felt response. When you’ve finished, add your individual scores together to come up with your total.
- Are you willing to overlook attitudes and lifestyles that offend you in order to befriend not-yet-Christians?
- Are you free from judgmental thoughts when you are around people who do not believe or behave like you do?
- Do you seek to understand not-yet-Christians before seeking to be understood by them?
- Are you patient enough to wait for not-yet-Christians to ask you for your opinion before you offer it?
- Do you love people who are far from God?
- Do people who are far from God like you? For instance, are you invited to their social gatherings and into their conversations?
- Does your body language communicate an open-heartedness toward not-yet-Christians?
- Are you able to offer unconditional love and acceptance (not endorsement) to people who offend your Christian sensibilities?
- In your relationships with not-yet-Christians, do you respond with kindness more than “rightness”?
- Do you have compassion and empathy for not-yet-Christians?
90 to 100: Congratulations! Don’t be surprised if other Christians frequently misunderstand you. If Jesus was misunderstood for being a “friend of sinners”, so will you! Continue to live for an audience of One & some day you will hear “well done, good and faithful servant”.
70 to 89: You must decrease, Jesus must increase: one relationship at a time, one conversation at a time, and one heart attitude at a time. If most of your friends are Christians, it’s time to step outside your Christian bubble. Join a new club, pursue a hobby, find common ground with those who are outside the faith but within your reach. Resolve today to be in closer proximity to people who are far from God. Don’t be surprised if God uses “lost” people to save you from the attitudes in your heart that are not-yet like His. Please note: Do not make this outward journey on your own. Jesus sent his disciples out in two’s for a reason. Find an accountability partner!
Under 70: Jesus needs to do something in you before he can do something through you. Read “The Prodigal God” by Tim Keller to gain some fresh perspective. Read “God Space” for some practical, doable, and authentic ideas of how to practically be a “friend of sinners” in your day-to-day world. Begin each day with this prayer: “Lord Jesus, help me to see the people who will cross my path this day the way you do”. Then pay attention to the little nudges the Holy Spirit will give you as you walk through your day.
Note: The great need of the hour is for Christ-followers everywhere to leave the church on Sunday ready to be the church Monday through Saturday. If you are looking for some practical, doable, and authentic ways to help your church leave the building, please go to my website GodsGPS.com to learn more about the “Activating God Space Kit”. It was specifically designed to help you grow a more outwardly focused culture in the following ministry settings: Youth Ministry, Small Groups, Churches, Church plants, and is extremely valuable for preparing your people for Mission trips.
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- Come back this evening (September 22, 4-6pm) to learn how you can create “God Space”. Free childcare.
- Take the “Jesus Test”.
- For the next 31 days, begin each morning with this prayer: “Lord Jesus, as I interact with others today, help me to see them as you do.” Keep a written record of things you had not noticed before.
- Purchase the God Space book.
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large, that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)