I’m always amazed at how Jesus not only hung around rough crowds filled with corrupt businessmen, prostitutes, and sinners but how those crowds actually wanted to be around Jesus. How does that happen? His message essentially tells them they need to change, but they invite him to parties.
When I’m in a new group and want them to “like” me, my first instinct is to impress them. If I look the right way and say the right things, they’ll think I’m cool and want me around, right?
Yeah. It’s a lousy approach. You can work to impress people, or you can try to connect with them. Impressing involves working to send all the right signals. Connecting involves spending a lot more time listening, asking questions, and sharing stories. It’s being who you are and caring about the other person rather than showing off a certain look or feel.
So the down-and-out crowded to be around Jesus. But today, most people outside of church avoid Christians like the plague. Part of the problem, it seems, is that while Jesus worked to connect, we’re working to impress.
I’m convinced it’s all about love. Jesus’ love was attractive. Somehow, the amount he cared about the people he was around came through enough that it was the message.
For us as individuals and the church, it’s a freeing message. Be yourself and love people.
It doesn’t mean we have to soften the rough edges of Christianity that might offend. Just be yourself and love people.
It doesn’t mean we have to lead perfect lives so everyone can see what a Christian should be like. Just be yourself and love people.
It doesn’t mean that our creative church services must be perfect every Sunday. Just be yourself and love people.
For some folks, this call is more difficult. It’s easier to put on a show than to simply be. But God’s call to love God and love others is centered around that type of relationship. Jesus’ call to “follow me” focuses on those relationships as well.
So how about this. Stop worrying about impressing people. Follow God. Be yourself. Love people.