As a homeschool mom, I am finding it very tempting to be an isolationist. When the pastor tells me that my missionary field is right around me and that I need to go out and share Jesus with those unbelievers in my life, I sit and strain my brain trying to think of somone I know personally who doesn’t know Christ. My “friend base” is made up mostly of Christians who homeschool. I admit I find it vaguely scary to seek out friendships with people who don’t know Christ. What if their unbelief rubs off on me? So I close myself off. I listen to Christian music. I read fiction written by Christian authors. I do not go out of my way to seek out friendships with people living outside my “comfort zone.” Am I speaking to your heart? If you are blessed with an extroverted personality and haven’t met anyone you couldn’t befriend in an instant, then hang on, and leave me some suggestions and comments later! But if, like me, you are tempted to hang back on the fringes, remaining mute with or avoiding unbelievers…let’s go to the Word and see what encouragement we may find.
Jesus was and still is a revolutionary. He spared no words for ‘holier than thou’ Pharisees who lived in isolation from ‘sinners,’ which they perceived to be anyone not like them. He knew about the secret things we think about those who are different from us, and he wanted us to love them all, as he loves us all. He – died – for – us – all! If we really get that deep down in our souls, sharing that good news will become as natural to us as breathing.
We find Jesus the Revolutionary talking about these things at the end of Luke chapter 11, spilling over into chapter 12. He’d been invited to dinner with some Pharisees. These guys got all offended when Jesus didn’t wash his hands the ceremonial way before he ate. They whispered and pointed fingers because he wasn’t adhering to the customs. And did he ever give them a tongue lashing I’m sure they never forgot! He’s talking to us, too, when we hold ourselves above others. Let’s listen in:
inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! 40 Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? 41 So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.
you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.
For you love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces. 44 Yes, what sorrow awaits you! For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on.”
For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden.
For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.”
While Jesus was giving the Pharisees a piece of his mind, the crowd swelled to thousands. There were so many jostling to listen to him that eyewitness Luke tells us that people were stepping on each other! He turns to his disciples and gives them this little tidbit about Pharisees….and about how to talk to others about himself:
“Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees—their hypocrisy. 2 The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. 3 Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear!
“Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. 5 But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear.
“I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels. 9 But anyone who denies me here on earth will be denied before God’s angels. 10 Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
11 “And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.”
This version reads “don’t worry about.” The original Greek words used are merimnao, which means to be anxious or troubled, or to care for, and apologeomai, which means to defend one’s self, to give a full account of. So, a more literal translation reads “take no thought of what thing ye shall answer.” Don’t even give it a passing thought!
My mind is turning that one over in my head. The Holy Spirit will teach me what I need to say, when I need to say it. I just have to be open to rubbing shoulders with anyone the Lord puts me in contact with.
I ask for your prayers that I will indeed open myself up and be obedient. I ask for your prayers that my conversations with people will be “full of grace, sprinkled with salt.” I pray the Lord will provide an opening for me to share what knowing Jesus has done for me with those he places in my path.
I am standing on Jesus’ word — that the Holy Spirit WILL teach me, and you, to say what needs to be said at the right time, to the right person.