Outreach is Reaching Out

Matthew 25:40 ...Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.

You might consider Doug and Susan the typical unchurched couple. They had built the quintessential suburban life for themselves and their two sons. They had everything the world defines as success, but they had nothing. No peace. No satisfaction. No joy.

Then one day Mike invited them to the Christmas Eve service at his church. Susan showed up in a skin tight leopard print dress but no one seemed to mind. That night they saw love - God's love lived through His people. Two weeks later they both decided to follow Christ.

Today Doug is the pastor of a church plant. Susan long ago offed her leopard print dress and spends much of her time with two things she used to deplore - dogs and women. A few years ago I was one of those women Susan hung out with. God used them to grow Scott and I in our faith. Now Scott too works in a church. I thank God for Mike.

This morning I am reading 1 Corinthians 5. Paul addresses two opposite issues in this passage. The first is the church being too soft on explicit long-term patterns of egregious sin in the life of the believer. While I'm sure this is a problem, my experience is that most Christians judge other believers far too readily and over matters of occasional disobedience. All of us are sinners who are being transformed by Jesus. Our churches would likely be more healthy if we spent more time examining our own lives and less time shredding the lives of others.

Paul's second concern is Christians who make no effort to make or build relationships with people outside of the church. There are far too few Mikes who are willing to hear some unpleasant language or witness some uncomfortable interactions in order to love people right where they are. Jesus' love is compelling. Jesus' love is a magnet to a person without hope.

Today, Jesus, I want to be a Mike. I want to love people right where they are. I yearn for Jesus' light to shine through my smile, conversation and concern and radiate on lives full of darkness. Thank you, Jesus, for Mike who loved the regular people of the world enough to really invest in getting to know them. Because he cared, countless lives, including my own, have been changed.

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