Have you ever said something aloud or in your heart to God, and, almost immediately, He answered your prayer? Well, that happened to me this past weekend!
I was driving home from a wedding, and was telling my younger brother and God how I wanted a church filled with people no one else wanted. “Lord,” I said, “Bring people to my church that need help, that need to know they are loved and valued and that the world rejects. I want a church filled with broken, hurting people – a church overflowing with those You want in Your Kingdom!”
Well, not more than an hour and a half after I presented my request to God, a friend of mine invited me to a bar and grill restaurant to watch the NBA finals and get a bite to eat. Just as we sat down at a table, a man, around my age, came walking up to where we were seated and asked to sit down with us! My friend and I looked at each other in complete amazement that this was happening. I mean, who does that? But my friend, being kind hearted, told him he could join us.
Immediately, this young man started sharing his life story with us, saying how he talks a lot and that he was bullied when he was in high school because he was a little different. He also told how he didn’t have a job at the moment along with many other things.
I could literally feel my flesh crawling, and was thinking subconsciously, “How is this happening right now? Why did this man come up to “our” table to talk when we’re here to watch the NBA playoffs?” My friend even invited him to our church! Being the spiritual giant I was, I kept quiet, even though I felt like God was prompting me to invite him to church myself! Then, in a split second, God reminded me of the very words I had spoken in the car a short time earlier, “Lord, bring people to my church that the world rejects, that need to know they are loved and valued and that need help!” I was almost embarrassed at how quickly I was fighting against the very thing I said I wanted! I had a choice to make; will I decide to extend God’s unconditional love to this gentleman, or will I be a hypocrite – giving lip-service to God, instead of following it through with action.
I wrestled with God for a few minutes, but in the quietness of my heart, I told God, “Lord, I really do want to love hurting, broken people and offer those, the world rejects, unconditional love and acceptance!” I am grateful God moved my heart to action! I embraced this young man for who he was, and asked him engaging questions. I no longer cared about the game on TV, but paid more attention to the person God was highlighting to me. By the end of the night, he felt valued, accepted and genuinely loved by my buddy and me.
Jesus ate with outcasts in society and sinful people religious individuals refused to associate with. The Bible records, “Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners” (Mark 2:15-17 NLT).
God wants you and me to be a light to others who don’t know God. He wants us to share His unending love, mercy and acceptance to them in hope they will place their trust and confidence in Him! We are His representatives! Every day, we have opportunity to share God’s love with people in need, just like the Good Samaritan showed the person beaten and left half-dead alongside the road.
Have you been resisting the people in your world that God wants you to love? Will you be Jesus’ hands and feet and offer those, the world rejects, grace and mercy? There is a cost involved, but the reward is far greater than any inconvenience you may experience! Jesus was constantly being interrupted, yet, He loved people! Will you? You may have made a million mistakes in this area. Simply, ask God to help you see the world the way He sees it and give you the courage to step out and take action. You’ll stand amazed at the fruit that comes from this type of lifestyle – a lifestyle of loving others the way Jesus did!