Getting Out There Through BLESSing
As Christians, we need to constantly remind ourselves that the part we play in this world is to be witnesses to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here at SBC, we regularly remind our people to “get out there,” but sometimes we struggle to visualize what that looks like in a post-Christian culture. In a digital world where face-to-face interactions are becoming the exception rather than the rule, and in a city where we value the privacy afforded by our block walls and automatic garage doors, it’s easy to insulate ourselves from people outside our evangelical circles, and even easier to miss initiating spiritual conversations with them.
For the last five weeks in The Forge, our primary gathering of men at SBC, we have been doing a “get out there” practicum of sorts using the acronym BLESS. Five simple words: Bless, Listen, Eat, Speak, and Sabbath can provide the beginnings of a framework for interactions with unbelievers in our world.
As believers, we have been blessed with the ears to hear and the heart to believe the Gospel; and because of that, we have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). As those who are blessed with eternal life, we are well equipped to bless others out of our own abundance. It’s a relatively easy thing to bless folks we encounter in the world with our words and actions.
When was the last time you complimented a server or cashier on the job they were doing? Better yet, when was the last time you encouraged one who was obviously struggling and frustrated and not having their best day? Words that bless can be life-giving. And few things are as peculiar in our culture as a kind word to someone who is struggling and maybe even underperforming. Jesus met lots of people who were underperforming as He walked the earth, and they tended to never be the same after encountering the level of care and acceptance He offered them. Most people who struggle already feel unlovable—they don’t need our help with that. They need the healing our words of blessing can offer.
Jesus was (and is) a great listener. When He healed the woman with the discharge in Mark 5, He could have just kept walking after she touched Him and was healed. But He stopped, found her, and listened to her story in that moment despite the seemingly urgent business of going to heal the dying daughter of the synagogue ruler. As followers of Jesus, are we willing to stop, putting our seemingly urgent business on hold, and listen to lost people? It could be a co-worker, a service provider, someone at the gym, or a homeless person. When we are willing to stop what we’re doing and listen, hear, and understand, it will be conspicuous and life-giving to many.
We need to listen to those we disagree with, too. If the Gospel is truly our top priority, we should be willing to listen to those who differ with us politically and morally with the hope that our attentive ear to their viewpoints and story will open the door to a spiritual conversation at some point. But it takes patience.
Eating or sharing a meal is the easiest excuse in the world to get together with someone. We all have to eat, and there are generally set times when we enjoy meals. In the Gospels we continually catch Jesus eating with people. Sometimes He ate with sinners, sometimes with friends, sometimes with the rich and powerful; but food provided Jesus the opportunity to interact with all kinds of people in all stages of faith. His use of the table culminated in the Last Supper where all believers are now invited to partake in His presence, and it will culminate in the marriage feast of the lamb mentioned in Revelation. Inviting a neighboring family to dinner, or inviting a coworker to lunch, or taking a meal to someone in need and eating with them, is a powerful platform for blessing someone and listening to them while enjoying God’s provision for you both. Let’s use the table in the way of Jesus to get out there.
Speaking is usually where we start when we talk about getting out there, but it is simply one of many ways we can reach the lost people around us. At some point, we need to speak the truth of the gospel to those who desperately need it. And while Peter admonishes us to do this thoughtfully in 1 Peter 3:15, it doesn’t require a seminary degree. If you know enough to get saved, you know enough to get someone saved. Your words need not be eloquent; we have a wonderful helper in the Holy Spirit who delights in showing up when we step out in faith to share the gospel with someone. I have seen utterly incoherent gospel presentations result in someone coming to faith. Strive for coherence, but rest assured that any good outcome is not you, it’s Him.
The final practice in BLESS is sabbath. We tend to think of unstructured time set aside for contemplation and rest as unproductive or even wasted in our culture. And in a digital age, we can be connected to friends, entertainment, music, news, and information ALL THE TIME. If you want to be in touch with where the Holy Spirit is leading you and able to hear His voice as He directs your prayers and actions towards those He would have you minister to, then you need times of quiet listening and contemplation.
God wants us to enjoy the fruit of our labor and to listen to His voice in our lives. Sabbath was instituted for this purpose. And while Jesus ended the legalistic practice of the Sabbath that the Pharisees observed, it is nevertheless a primary need of the human soul. Especially one in relationship with Jesus. Sabbath is the place where we are reminded of our marching orders and where we reconnect to the architect of our journey on earth as believers. Silence and inactivity can be unnerving when we aren’t used to them, but they are soul-replenishing when we make it a rhythm of our lives.
I hope BLESS provides each of you with some simple reminders and cues to Get Out There as you strive to be the light in a world that desperately needs Jesus.
CENTRAL PASTOR, MEN’S & MARRIAGE