“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me…”
(Matthew’s Good News Story, Chapter 11:35
Learn The Way
A few months ago I read a little ebook entitled, “The Five Habits of Highly Missional People” by Michael Frost, an Australian missiologist (person who studies missionary work). In it, Frost offers some very practical insight and action that Christian people can do to really embody the love of God in their homes, their neighborhoods, their workplaces,their schools, and their world. This same book has been repackaged and is now available on Amazon as “Surprise the World“.
The reason I want to talk about this today is that around the middle of the book, Frost proposes a very doable series of activities that anyone of faith can actually do to be a missionary in their own world.
Christianity is not simply about attending church services, singing hymns, and acknowledging God every once in a while. From what many “Christians” in the public eye seem to model, it seems that this is the predominant view of what this faith is all about. I want to submit to you that the primary focus of Christians today, needs to be two-fold:
- We must learn who it is that we have been called to Be.
- We must learn what it is that we have been called to Do.
Frost offers up a simple acronym to make it easier to remember as we put into practice our active following of Jesus in our everyday lives. Today, I want to share the BELLS acronym briefly as a practical way for you to begin developing habits that allow you to discover who you are and what you are to do as you learn how to follow Jesus. Try these 5 things this week, and see if you don’t sense a change in the way you interact and relate to Jesus and to the people He brings you in front of this next week.
- Bless three people this week. Find three people that are in your sphere of influence this week to simply bless in some tangible way. Perhaps it is simply saying something kind to someone as an encouraging word. Maybe it is actually purchasing someone a small gift to show them you care about them. Whatever it is, choose to bless three people this week in some significant way. Frost suggests that blessing implies, “adding strength to another’s arm.” What a great way to activate the love of God in the lives of those around you. Also, be sure to make one of those people someone you do not attend church with. Let them be someone who either has no faith community that they belong to, or struggles with faith. Be a blessing to someone who least expects it. It can be a financial, an emotional, or a physical blessing. Just bless them.
- Eat with three people this week. Not only can we bless people, we eat 21 meals a week. Surely you can find time to invite 3 people into your eating schedule each week? If you are married, talk to your spouse about setting aside one night a week to invite a neighbor or a friend over to eat a meal with you. Something happens when we eat together. It is not only a physical experience, but a spiritual one as well. And be sure to make sure that one of the people you eat with this week isn’t of the same faith persuasion as you. Invite someone who isn’t involved in “Christian” circles to come and sit with you at your table. If doing a whole meal doesn’t work, then take your lunch break one day at work and go grab a cup of coffee with someone. Whatever way you choose to do it, carve out three meals this week, and give that time to some people who need your presence in their lives.
- Listen for the Spirit’s Voice. Frost lays out a simple strategy in his book for finding ways to listen for the Spirit of God speaking into your heart and mind. I encourage you to set aside time, eliminate all distractions, rest in His presence, and follow the promptings of God as you spend time in His word and his presence. This requires a certain element of discipline. You have to get away to a quiet place. You have to be able to open up the word of God, perhaps the Psalms to start, and let God speak into your heart.
- Learn Christ. Some of us thought we were done with study when we finished high school or university. But the truth is that study is a part of growth. Gaining knowledge of the world around you continues long after you leave the classroom. But there is a place, a very important place, for continuing your understanding of the world, and specifically of God. The only way this will happen is if you are in a regular study of the Word of God, also known as the Bible. Commit to spending a period of the week, reading, studying, and gaining knowledge of Christ as revealed through the Scriptures. Start in the Gospels. Learn about Jesus. Read His stories. Listen to His parables. Watch the way he interacts with people. He is the example we are learning to follow. So read about Him and learn Christ.
- Sent. The last thing Jesus said to His followers before He left the planet was to go to the nations and make disciples. The Christian faith is a sent faith. We follow a missionary God who left the comforts of Heaven and His royal throne to come to us to deliver a message of hope. The example of Jesus is that of a sent one, a missionary. As Jesus was sent by God, so He sends us into the world to proclaim and live out the gospel, the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is not only news about the afterlife, but it is here…it is now. God’s Kingdom is made tangible here on earth in the lives of His sent ones, the Christian, the disciple/apprentice of Jesus. We are sent into our homes, sent into our neighborhoods, sent into our schools, sent into our workplaces, sent into the public square, and sent into our communities to be the good news in the lives of everyone we touch and speak to. Everyone.
I hope you will find these simple habits doable and practical for your life this week. Following Jesus isn’t about how smart you are, how capable you are, or how spiritually gifted you are. Following Jesus begins with simply listening to His voice, and then doing what He says. These five habits, if every Christ-follower would put them into practice, could potentially change your city.
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