I held tightly to my little ones, the tire inches away from a cliff in the remote Himalayan mountains.
The SUV rocked side to side. No seat belts. They giggled and waved to the monkeys. Kids are such wonderful adventurers. I, however, was in full “adulting” mode. There were endless horrible possibilities. It would take me days to list them all.
I held my breath as cars brushed past us.
Greater is He that is in me.
Greater is He that is in me than this cliff.
Greater is He that is in me than my fear of falling off this cliff.
If you think I’m being overly dramatic, I assure you I am not. Even in video form, it’s a wild ride. Watch this if you’re curious.
Just when I thought I could exhale at the bottom of the mountain, we entered an Indian city where people and cows enveloped us. In America, these people would have had a death wish. But, in India, it’s just another day.
I looked into their faces as we drove, arms length from me, taking a split second on each one to recognize their beauty.
Most were Hindu, Buddhist, or Muslim. Most hadn’t yet been introduced to the Jesus I know, a Jesus who values our individual beauty.
As we drove, I listened to a friend share about churches being closed as ashrams, temples, mosques, and monasteries erected daily.
I smiled to myself imagining the possibility of connecting with each person I saw… perhaps becoming their friend, as my friend there had done so well. It wouldn’t be hard to be their friend and I didn’t need a church building to do so. I found each person I met in India to be more lovable than the next. Eastern culture has a way of hugging you in.
We were on our way home after 2 weeks in India and I was feeling challenged. So many are disconnected from Jesus. In fact, most people I encounter, even in America, only know the Jesus media and angry “Christians” portray. Or I think it’s safe to say they’ve had an awkward encounter with a well-intentioned Christian, insisting they immediately repent.
I’m not sure preaching Jesus in people’s faces is the best method. I do believe, however, that they are ready for an encounter with an authentic God who loves them and is ready to take the journey with them.
Maybe preaching at people works in some cases… But, it seems counter intuitive to the Jesus I know who is relational, righteous in judgment (without calling us to judgement), and patient with our flaws? I sense if Jesus was here in the flesh He would be on the Indian roadside drinking chai, at the mall talking to the teenager who feels like an outcast, or sitting across from me at Starbucks as I write this post.
He is calling me to be with him here in the real.
Prior to this trip, I had been working on a Bible study I was calling Higher Purpose You.
It was pretty much finished, but candidly, I hadn’t been able to find peace within me to release it. I wasn’t sure why. Something just felt off. I had put the study on hold, hoping that while we were abroad that my subconscious would work out what needed to be adjusted.
It was while driving down an Indian mountain that I discovered the root of my dilemma, but it wasn’t until I got home and re-addressed this work that my conscious revealed it to me.
To sum it up, Christians have enough.
We have the Bible, countless Bible studies, apps, support groups, charities (no pun intended), and churches of every size and flavor. If you’re a Christian, you do not need me to create another Bible study for you! In fact, if I did… it probably wouldn’t be very insightful. There are people better qualified. Go find one.
So, what is it that God had been guiding me to develop? There was something good in what I had written. I just had to dig into it and pray.
As I did, I realized the people I most desire to connect with are those people who are on the path, maybe they’ve found Jesus… maybe they haven’t. Either way, I desire to be a friend and a guide. I had been too fearful to step out. Who am I to do such a thing?
But, I think it’s worth overcoming my fear of trying. Maybe you too are ready to step out and guide people on the path to Jesus. Maybe you too are afraid. Let’s do it afraid, together.
Those of you who know me, know I’m not typically a timid person. I’m very open about my faith, while also being embracive of people who are not like me in my life. So, why in the world would I be fearful to create something that connects Jesus with people who do not yet know Him?
3 Reasons We Stick to Preaching to Christians instead of Walking with People Who Do Not Yet Know Jesus
1. Fear of what other Christians will think.
I owned a consulting business for faith-based organizations for almost 12 years. It’s an interesting thing when your livelihood is wrapped up in church work. The fear of judgement impacts your household finances.
I would often wonder things like, What will they think when they see me with my pagan friend? Will they cancel their contract? or What are they saying in the board room when they see me out with friends who are all drinking alcohol?
Now, truth is… there would be some that would say, “That’s amazing! Keep making friends who are not like you. Walk with them and stay true to Jesus.”
But, you know as well as I do, since I’m not a fundraising “missionary” who is doing this as my “ministry”… there are many who would say that I have “backslidden.”
Backsliding is a Christian-y term for walking away from Jesus rather than towards Him.
Heaven forbid I do something that would make them think I’m a dreaded backslider!
We know this judgement is real, because Jesus faced it in His life from religious leaders who didn’t appreciate how comfortable He was with unholy people like tax collectors and common prostitutes.
I’m glad to know that we’re all unholy. We all fall short. Only Jesus was holy.
We can take a lesson from Him. He didn’t let judgement get to Him. In fact, He valued His time with those who were sinners more than His time with the religious. He responded to their criticism with, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.”
2. Fear of being awkward.
Let’s face it. If you’re not living a lifestyle similar to a friend, there can be awkward moments and times that you disagree in your relationship. This is never comfortable.
But, it’s only as awkward as you want to make it. If we want to walk the path toward Jesus with those who do not yet know Him, we have to prepare ourselves for moments when we don’t see things in the same way and choose for this not to be a deal breaker in the relationship.
Out of your most awkward moments, can come a tenacity to love others in spite of differences. Jesus didn’t call upon us to “save people.” Jesus never told us to put on our super cape and go rescue people from the “hand of Satan.” He simply said to go everywhere, to everyone, and spread the good news of who He is. He is the one who does the saving.
God desires for us to live in community with people who do not yet know Him and love through the awkward moments and beyond them. This is the only way we can to walk the journey toward Jesus together.
3. Fear of irrelevance.
I don’t know how many times I’ve met someone who believed differently than me and thought, I’d love to connect with them, but they probably think I’m irrelevant. I’m sure they wouldn’t want to spend time with me… in spite of the fact that I’m a super cool person. (Humble too.)
When we are concerned about irrelevance, this is the time to re-invite Jesus into the relationship, not retreat and deny ourselves the opportunity to get to know someone new.
Jesus was the ultimate relator. He came as a man to relate with us on our level. He blended with the people and shared in the most contextual way possible. He ate meals with outcasts, He walked straight to the unlikely person in the crowd, and He choose common people as His disciples.
We don’t have to worry about being relevant… Jesus is always relevant and He can help us relate. We just have to choose not to be weirdos. (That’s another blog post.) And, we have to first choose to live beyond the “safety zone” of the Christian borders we put around ourselves.
Since arriving back in the US, I’ve been working on a new version of Higher Purpose You.
My approach has been to create something that is a tool for those walking on the path toward Jesus (no matter where they are at on the path.) It’s also a great tool for those who are ready to become a guide on the path.
Instead of a Bible study, I created 7 scripture-based meditations, set to music. Each meditation is 3-minutes long and is perfect for declaring God’s higher purposes over your life. You can listen to it in your car, on your exercise mat, or while shopping at Wholefoods… I have written a simple narrative for each one of how Jesus offers us the Higher Power we need to live within our higher purpose.
It looks and sounds completely different from what I had originally created, but carries the same message.
In making this shift, I need to ask for your grace and help. I’m trying something new. And, when we try new things, there’s always fear of trying.
I’ve already been told by religious leaders that meditation is not something I should offer, “Why don’t I cash in on the Christian audience that already reads my writing?”
I’ll tell you why. Because I believe it’s worth taking the risk to connect Jesus with even one person who doesn’t know Him yet. And, I’ve found meditation to be a power tool to fix my mind on Biblical truth.
In a couple of weeks, I’ll be releasing Higher Purpose You. Are you curious? Great! I need your help!
I’m looking for 100 friends who are willing to try the first 3 meditations (again, they’re just 3-minutes each) and write a testimonial of what they thought! (Note the below link, has a hover form. When you click it, just wait for the form to pop up.)
In exchange, all I ask is for you to write a quote about what you thought. Share it both with me (pre-launch) and your friends on social media (on launch day.)
I’m sort of crossing my fingers for what is to come and I’m hoping for your involvement.
I’d love to hear from you.
How are you overcoming fear and connecting with people who are different from you?
Are you on the path still searching for your truth? Or are you guiding people on the path to Jesus? What does that look like for you in your real life?
Share your comments below.