This is a guest post by Laura Hairston. Laura is a wife, mom & practitioner. She serves on the National Leadership team for Forge America Mission Training Network and is co-founder of Waken Ministries, both organizations helping with missionary formation & discipleship. She lives in the North Dallas suburbs where she mentors teenage girls in her home as well as longs to see her neighborhood look more like the kingdom of God each day. Her heartbeat is for every follower of Jesus to see themselves as missionaries in their every day lives. Twitter | Facebook
“Who do you think you are?” is what I’d really like to say to those “Christians”—yes, those are air quotes—who think they are better than everyone else. Just because we know Jesus and have decided to follow him doesn’t mean we turn inward and raise ourselves in status. On the contrary, we should be turning outward and becoming more gracious and humble.
I’ll preface the rest of this by saying I used to be one of those “Christians.” I only spent time with the people I worked around and attended church with, and most of them were all the same since I worked in a church. I never had time for my neighbors or really anyone else for that matter. I was constantly surrounded by people who believed and valued the same things I did.
Thank GOD He rescued me from my selfish, judgmental, hypocritical self and opened my eyes to the rest of the people around me, people He deeply loves. He made me realize just because I knew the love of Jesus, I was not to hide it or keep it to myself, but be a light in the darkness to whomever he sent me. This led our family into truly living on mission, intentionally for the sake of the Gospel. It also wakened in us a desire to see our neighborhood and city look more like the kingdom of God. These days, our neighbors, now great friends, look more like Jesus every day.
In our journey we’ve come up against some “Christians” who have questioned some of our decisions and even our character and integrity (Let’s just say you should not attend a Rihanna concert if you don’t want to set them off!). “How do you spend time with people that cuss & drink as much as they do?” they’d ask. To which I’d think, “Who do you think you are?” because as I read the Gospels, Jesus did just that and I know neither of us are greater than him.
It says in Matthew 11, “And people say, ‘This fellow is always eating and drinking far too much. He’s a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’”
If the Son of Man was accused of being a “friend of sinners, eating and drinking too much,” why should we be any different? Now I’m not giving the thumbs up to getting wasted and fat—I’m just saying that we shouldn’t be afraid to hang out and have a great time with those that may drink alcohol.
An Incredible Friend
I have an incredible friend who is on the journey of faith. We met several years ago in an exercise class. Honestly, before I made the shift I’m not sure I would have sought out her friendship. We were laughing the other day because the first time I met her, she was sweating alcohol and cussing like a sailor in class. Today, after several years of walks, coffee dates, talking about spiritual things, kids, spouses, and just living life together, I have seen God mold and shape her into a confident, generous, selfless woman. During this time, she has gone through AA, started serving the homeless, and has a better understanding of the kingdom of God and her relationship with Him than most “Christians” I know.
But that’s not all. I am a better person because I know her. She challenges me. She teaches me about meditation, taking time for myself, not giving what I don’t have to give, and having fun in life. I tend to be wound a bit tight, and she’s loosened me up to say the least!
I would encourage you to ask yourself, “Am I turned more outward and gracious or more inward and judgmental?” We as Christ followers should be the most loving, generous, hospitable servants to others, and yet, we have not always been known for being those things. I promise, as you make disciples of Jesus, you too will become a better disciple, because you are living out your calling while also being sharpened by those to whom you’ve been sent.