Quick question; If you walked into a restaurant and saw Jesus having a friendly lunch with Nancy Pelosi, Lady Gaga, Derek Chauvin, George Floyd’s murderer, or Donald Trump, would that surprise you? And why?
Do you think there is anyone with whom Jesus would not meet with to demonstrate his love for them, or introduce them to the gospel, except perhaps Satan or his demons? It drove the religious leaders of Jesus‘ day nuts that he hung out with the worst of the worst in their hierarchy of sinners. But he did.
My next question is more personal. Is there anyone in your life that you can’t imagine ever having lunch with? Your former boss who fired you, a father who was absent, or unkind, a homeless person you pass every day, the kid in your church all dressed in black and covered with tattoos?
The truth is, I have a number of people that I can’t imagine having an enjoyable conversation with. So, I don’t want to be self-righteous about my own misgivings. The people who I have in mind would probably try to persuade me to believe something I don’t and not let up until I “saw the light.” Others, I just have no idea what I’d say to them for why I want to meet with them. A few are so stubborn that years ago I gave up trying to introduce them to Christ, but should have?
But here’s what I’ve decided to do. If no one is on Jesus’ “no invite” list and I’m supposed to be like Jesus, then I’m going to invite some of these people to lunch, coffee, or whatever. But before I do, I plan to ask the Holy Spirit to give me the wisdom to listen without having the defend and to ask questions that show I’m trying to understand them and lastly to not close my mind off to the fact that I could be wrong and they could be right. With the gospel hardened group, I’m going to pray that the Holy Spirit will soften them up even before we meet and that I begin building a redemptive relationship, (friendship) with them.
We don’t have to present the gospel to everyone the first time we meet. I tell the men I mentor, “My goal for that first meeting, is to get a second meeting.” Build trust, build a relationship, find out how they may have been wounded by a parent, the Church, or just by life. The pray for Holy Spirit wisdom to both listen and respond appropriately.
But more than anything else, I want to conduct myself as Jesus would, with kindness. There are all kinds of people I may not enjoy, but none Jesus wouldn’t want me to be kind to. But this is my ultimate goal: I want to make Jesus proud of me. (That’s generally my goal anyway, but it’s still shocking to me, how bad a job I do with some people occasionally.)
“A gentle answer turns away anger, but harsh words stirs it up.” Proverbs 15:18
I’ll let you know how it goes. If you chose to do the same, we’d love to hear how your lunch or coffee went.