No doubt, you are a busy person. Everything from work, to family, to church, and beyond. I look at my to-do list and I notice there are many things to check off. I have many tasks to complete. But in the busyness of all we can easily forget what it is all about.
We are in the people business! This is especially true in the church. It seems obvious. Of course we are in the people business! But it is so easy to make it about the tasks. We make it about planning a great worship. We make it about leading a great Bible Study. We make it about filling a need with volunteers. We make it about having all the right policies and procedures in place. It becomes very easy to forget why we do what we do. It is about people. It is about their relationship with the Lord. People matter to God and because people matter to God they matter to us.
There are people who are broken, people who face great challenges in their lives, people who need hope, people who need to know they’re here to make a difference, people who are wandering aimlessly through life, people who are filled with bitterness, people who are filled with rage, people who are struggling with their children, people who are struggling with their marriages, people who are struggling with finances, people struggling with depression, people who need Jesus. The need is all around us. But sometimes we get so focused on the task at hand we fail to look up and see that need.
It is easier to focus on a task than a person. A task is is clean, cut, and dried. A task is not messy. A task can be left behind at the end of the work day. When the task is complete our work is done. There is great satisfaction to check the task off of our to-do list.
People on the other hand are messy. Have you ever noticed they don’t all think like you? They have their own quirks and personalities. They have their hang ups and hold ups. They have ways of putting up barriers that make them difficult to work with. They always seem to be a work in progress. It is tough work.
We tend to ask safe questions when we are around others. We ask, “how are you?” We expect the response to be something like “good” or “fine” or “ok”. We really don’t want them to say something negative because then we are going to be inconvenienced to listen their story. We may end up having to pray with them or go help them. It is a place we would rather not go.
I find it amazing how we can make something that is so naturally about people to be not about people. We make Church be about religious routines of worshipping, praying, reading our Bibles but forget all about the aspect of doing life together and serving the least of these. When we talk about stepping out of our comfort zone, this is where it is at. We are comfortable keeping our relationship with God confined arenas we can control. But when we start to expand the relationship we have with him beyond our own lives and into the lives of other we lose our sense of control. We don’t know how others will respond, so this is where we walk by faith.
It is not just about connecting with God. It is connecting with others and connecting others with Jesus. It’s messy work. Are you ready to get messy?
Here is a challenge for you. Find a person in the next week and ask them how they are doing. Ask them to share with you what is going on in their life. Ask them about their feelings. Ask them about their relationship with God. And listen! Don’t preach to them or at them. Encourage them and let them open up their heart. Recognize this might take time, concentration, and effort. Recognize that it may take you to a place you did not plan on going or even really want to go. But know that God will be leading the way and you will be on your way to discovering the heart of Jesus.