MEETING PEOPLE WHERE THEY ARE
Last week we began a series to help us love people to life. When we go to a new place, it it easy to assume we know what people need to do. In many cases, we may be right.
The best thing to do is to pray, and listen, to see where God is working and how God is working in the new area we’re in. Go night to a new place and driving forward our plans, without seriously paying attention to the work of God already in progress, can create some issues. This is not saying God will not bring redemption through work we do; but the work could actually take longer.
So, we’ve prayed and we believe we have listened carefully to God’s voice and have opened our eyes to see the work in progress. We must be careful not to give into the temptation to get to work right away. I know this seems odd to say. The truth is we would do so much better if we took our time.
Taking our time means we begin the process of getting to know the people. Plus, it gives us a chance to “meet people exactly where they are.”
Think about that for a minute. How did Jesus Christ begin working with your life? He met you, the person you were, in the exact situation you were in. I would also bet to say that when you realized Jesus was right there with you, he did not start off by saying, “I’m here to fix your life, so you need to do these steps right away!”
Instead, I believe Jesus first said to you, “I love you. Come and see what your life can and will be like with me.” That’s basically what he said when he called the disciples in Matthew 4, Mark 1-2, Luke 5, John 1. He invited the disciples to join him, just as they were. That’s when the transformation begins.
Our number one priority in this life, aside from loving and worshipping God through Jesus Christ, is to love the people God created.
Now we have to ask the question, what does meeting people where they are look like?
This is really one of the hardest things we will ever do. This involves simply listening to their stories, what they say about other people, how they say they live their life, anything they want to tell you…without judgement. It involves us learning the area, past customs, past traditions, history of the area, learning what dreams people have. All of this is done at the same time we are praying for God’s wisdom, vision, for the area while we are there.
I have found that, most of the time, you will hear people begin to say things that are very similar to what God has been speaking to you. And, when we take time to get to know the person and witness their life, trust is formed through this relationship. Then, we can begin to see the work of Christ in their life. Afterall, this is how we would want other people to treat us.
We may have a grand vision, grand ideal, for an area, for the life of a person, or people group; but Jesus may be working on something deeper than what we can see and experience at the surface. This is why it is so important to meet with people where they are, as they are, so we can see how God is using us to work with him in that person’s life.
Here is something I have had to learn to consider in every situation: maybe it’s not just about working to make change in other people’s lives; maybe it is also about God’s redemptive and transformative work within our own life.
How is this sitting with you, right now? What did you know about this concept? What do you not agree with?
Additional questions to consider:
1) What do the people do/act like, that is hard for you to be around?
2) Do you think you have to patience to continue this work for getting to know people for months or even years without getting frustrated or impatient?
3) What do you sense God working on in your life, as you get to know new people and their stories?