You Are Closer Than You Think

“After them, Benjamin and Hasshub repaired the section across from their house, and Azariah son of Maaseiah and grandson of Ananiah repaired the section across from his house. Next was Binnui son of Henadad, who rebuilt another section of the wall from Azariah’s house to the angle and the corner.” (Nehemiah 3:23-24 NLT)

It was a massive undertaking to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, but it got accomplished largely because of the vision of one man and the cooperation of those who dared to share his vision. One very important piece of the process was to challenge the residents to work primarily where they lived. That’s essentially what the Lord has asked us to do in helping to win lost loved ones and friends to Him.

Yes, of course, we can give money to the “professionals,” the missionaries and pastors who have been to school and have been trained to present the Gospel to the lost. We believe we can pray and live godly lives, but leading others to Jesus isn’t in our wheelhouse. Someone wisely said: “Telling others about Jesus is like one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.”

What if we used the same principle that Nehemiah used to build the wall around Jerusalem? What if we focused on the lost people in our spheres of influence? The ones in our family, co-workers, neighbors, the ones we enjoy doing social or recreational things with?

And please understand, I’m not the “know-it-all” regarding effective ways to reach these people. I’m just an old man who loves Jesus and I don’t want anyone to miss heaven because I didn’t take the time or make the effort to help them understand who He is and what He’s done for them. But the truth is, there are those in your range of relationships who WILL listen to you, if you’ll prayerfully and carefully love them well.

A Piercing Light “Used by permission, © Ray Majoran,

What does that mean? It means let the light of your love for them shine brightly. Effective sharing begins with effective praying. I tend to be a better writer than speaker. Especially as I’m aging, I don’t think well “on my feet.” I forget where Bible verses are, and I easily lose my train of thought. So, the Lord has laid on my heart to write notes/letters/emails/texts to those for whom I’m praying.

A good rule of thumb is, the closer relationship you have with someone the more accurately you’ll be able to know how to approach them. For example, when meeting someone for the first time, I try to find something we have in common. I’ll ask them where they grew up, how long they’ve lived where they live, or I ask about their family – are they married? Have kids? Pets? Depending on where I meet them, I often ask if they’ve found a good church since they’ve lived here?

Ultimately, I’m moving in the direction of determining whether we’re a “good fit,” in terms of compatibility. If they’re antagonistic, argumentative, or just not interested, I don’t try to force anything, but If I feel a connection, I’ll often ask them if we can exchange numbers and maybe meet for breakfast or for coffee. As I’ve shared before, the best context out of which to share faith is friendship. If someone doesn’t like you, they likely won’t listen to anything you have to say.

The point is, God has put you in the spheres of influence you’re in for a reason. Prayerfully consider two or three people you know or with whom you’d like to get better acquainted and begin to pray about the best ways to connect with them. People tend to share what’s most important to them, and often the best time to connect is in a crisis.

When someone is hurting and you’re able to express concern and genuine empathy, it can go a long way in opening a pathway over which you can share love for them and the Lord with them. Leading someone to Jesus begins with loving them enough to care that they’re lost, but you’ll never know that with certainty until you get close enough to find out.

Food for thought.

Blessings, Ed 😊

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