Mercy, Peace, and Love Multiplied to You
What does this look like in the life of a believer? The book of Jude in the New Testament is so refreshing and yet challenging at the same time. Soak in this text sometime and you’ll benefit greatly. For my two communities of focus, I have great hope to see our Redeemer’s work of multiplying mercy, peace, and love to you. Tuolumne County and Merced County, you’re uniquely equipped with some things that it’s easy to look down on, and yet the Savior goes after again and again. You’re equipped with severe needs. Merced County in particular is apparently frequently on the map in studies nation-wide for things such as drugs, poverty, teen pregnancy, and even sex-trafficking!
When I first opened my business, I went all through Merced County from door to door for several weeks. I’d spend an hour or two of many days walking the community and engaging with Merced County residents. I’d wear a T-shirt with big white characters, “1,000 Opinions on Merced.” I’d simply ask for people’s genuine opinions on this town. All the way through all demographics and income levels and educational levels, the opinions were very much negative and predicting doom for the town of Merced in particular. As funny as it may sound, this increased my hope for our opportunities as believers in making a difference in the joy of our LORD Jesus. Tuolumne County isn’t much brighter, though the air is cleaner and it’s admittedly more pleasant year-around, and my preferred lifestyle is there… Hey, I grew up there, so that plays a part, and it’s genuinely a more pleasant place to call home. Yet, economically and statistics-wise, it’s not packed with optimistic hopes from its residents. I’ve gone door-to-door there as well, but when there I was asking about physical needs and feeling out the community for a possible church plant. I know more inherently where people stand in their opinions of Tuolumne County since I grew up there and still know a lot of folks.
With this blog post I wanted to share briefly about the state of affairs in these two communities, at least from an opinion point of view.
Now, what’s God’s perspective? What would it look like if we were to have this attitude of wanting God’s mercy, peace, and love multiplied to our communities? What if we said, more often, “May these be multiplied to you, friends!” Imagine local churches that agree on the basics of the Christian faith banding together to witness communities being transformed by the unearned favor of God in Jesus Christ. What if we were to be more explicit in our sharing of the reason for the hope that we have, sharing about Jesus Christ’s death for us, but this being done in relationship with those we encounter? The problem so often is that we go either the evangelization route or the humanitarian aid with our whole person. The beauty of being a follower of Jesus and being transformed by Him by degrees daily throughout our whole lives is that we can’t help but to follow His pattern that He demonstrated while among us. Let’s show God’s favor in our behavior, build relationships with folks, whether or not they become followers of Jesus in our lifetimes, and gently share the reason for why we have so much hope in our lives… Jesus, our Redeemer, He’s our HOPE!
Street evangelism… I’m sorry, but it more often does more harm than good. Weekend warrior outreach… I’m sorry. We have to actually connect, friends. We have to actually touch down in the lives of those we encounter on our neighborhood block, in our work places, in our grocery stores, on our walks, at our gyms, etc. If we take the time to get to know those we encounter, we will have opportunities to pray for people, and they will often not turn us down. We’ll have opportunities to meet physical needs, and when this is done with grace and creativity, they will hardly ever turn us down. We’ll have opportunities to have these encountered folks become friends through having meals together… Almost no one turns down food with new or old friends!
What a joy to be a follower of Jesus, friends! Let’s live all in and all there for Jesus.
In His friendship,