Making Jesus Accessible

Practical Ways to Reach Out to Muslims (Or Anyone Else). Tip #2: No Agenda

I know, we all have an agenda.  Jesus had one.  His was multifaceted.  To serve.  To teach twelve. To live in a way we could see the Father.  To love.  To die.  And it seems the people he met never felt “used” by him.  He never left a sinful woman or a blind beggar with a bad taste in their mouth.  He looked people in the eye.  Stopped during his busy day. Touched the leper and allowed the prostitute to wash his feet.  When he healed or delivered people, he usually told them not to tell anyone.  I know when I do something really cool, I tell everyone.  Hmm.

But what if our “agenda” really is just to do good and serve people?  In Jesus’ name, of course.  Not to convert them or fix them or save them.  Just love them.

This doesn’t mean we’re not bold or that we don’t share this amazingly Good News we have.  Quite the opposite.  It’s impossible to keep our mouths shut when our hearts are full.  But we should be in no hurry to “pray the prayer” with them.  Or to “lead them to Jesus.”  We should simply be willing to be like Jesus, talk like Jesus, and love like Jesus.  This means we shovel their sidewalks (which I have plenty of opportunities to do in Denver); we pick up their kids from school when they need it; we smile a lot and have chats at the mailbox in the afternoons; and whenever and however we can, we bring up the Love of our life.  Not to “get ’em,” but just because.

Possibly the best and worst story I have is this one.  Ten of us were in Beirut having a team meeting at our house.  We had prayed and worshiped and now were into our “strategy time.”  We were talking about how to “reach” Beirut for God.  Then our doorbell rang.  It was Hisham. Oh no.  He was one of “them.”  A Muslim neighbor.  One of those people we were strategizing about how to reach.

I kept the door half closed and awkwardly said, “Hi, what’s up?”

Looking around the door and seeing several other friends, Hisham said, “Hey, are you having fun without me?” and walked right in.  He greeted the people he knew and asked what we were doing.

“Well, nothing much,” I lied.  “Just, uh, praying and stuff…”

So he sat down.  Our group didn’t know what to do.  We talked to him, of course, but it was obvious we were all a bit annoyed.  After all, we had busy schedules and only another half hour before the meeting ended and we could get on with life (reaching Beirut).

Hisham must have felt the tension because he left after twenty minutes.  When he was gone, we all felt sick.  We knew what had happened, but it was too late to catch ourselves.

Ironically and mercifully, God brought Hisham back the next week at exactly the same time.  This time, I invited Hisham in, sat him down, and told him, “You know, many of us have left our countries and families to come to Beirut to see how God might want to bless this city and the nation of Lebanon.  Any chance you could help us figure out how God might want to do this?”  He was wild with excitement and ended up being one of my closest friends and partners!

If you want to evaluate your motives, ask yourself if you really just want the best for others, or if there’s a hidden benefit in it for you as you “serve” people.  Your friends will be particularly tuned in to any self-serving agenda if you have one.  Just love them.  It’s enough.

Stay tuned for Tip #3, coming next week.

(This content was taken from the book Muslims, Christians, and Jesus)