On any given Sunday, they are here. Drawn by the Lord. Sitting as inconspicuously as possible. One eye on the exit. Awkward but observant. As strange to us as we are to them. But they not strange to God who drew them here by His great love.
“Go ahead. Stand up and greet someone you haven’t met before!” The host or hostess insists with a smile.
The environment morphs into friendly chaos. Movement, chatter, laughter, and . . . hugs? The outsider may be gregarious enough to welcome a welcome from you. But they wait, holding back, hoping the moment will pass and they can re-seat themselves in precious anonymity.
Here’s a biblical discipline for all of us to develop. We can partner with the people on the platform to help Jesus seek and save those who are lost. Paul says it directly:
Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:5-6.
I love what God is doing here at Clearwater! We are embracing a culture of caring. We are developing eyes that see as Jesus sees – strangers are not intruders, but are our most honored and welcomed guests. Here is what Paul is encouraging us to do:
1. Be ready. Ask for wisdom to respond as Jesus would.
2. See and seize the moment, the opportunity. Be proactive, intentional. Take the risk.
3. Say something! By taking initiative, you remove awkwardness – both theirs and yours.
4. Say what the Spirit guides you to say, which will always be full of delicious grace.
5. Listen to the Lord while listening to them. God will give you wisdom as you respond.
And on any given Sunday, you are not sitting beside an “outsider.” So just praise the Lord that they are here! Somewhere! Pray for whomever is the gracious proclaimer of the Word of God, and watch how God unfolds Colossians 4:5-6 as they speak under the anointing of the Lord. Yes, observe how Pastor Randy conducts himself ”with wisdom toward outsiders.”
If you are still a little clueless about what I am sharing, here is an exercise. Go visit another church. (I mean, when you are out of town!) Experience what it is like to be the “outsider.” Ask the Lord to let you see what He sees. Bring back what you learn and share it with us. Let’s develop this godly discipline together, a culture of caring.
Okay. Surprise, surprise! You may discover that the “outsider” beside you is not an outsider at all; just a “stranger” to you. You may discover one of your “cousins” from the other side of our recently merged church family that you hadn’t met before. Wow! You just found a new friend!
Be encouraged. Opportunities are all around us, not just in church. What is scary at first, will become a joyous adventure in working out of your own salvation as God works in you both to desire and to accomplish His will. I welcome your comments and insights, too.