How Can You Be #ForChippewa This Spring

What will have changed once we can officially say we are in “post-covid” times?  That is a question I am asking a lot.  We are wondering what’s going to have changed and what will have stayed the same.  No one really has the answers, yet.  But we are starting to get glimpses of what life after covid is going to look like.

One change that I’ve noticed, subtly, is the increased temptation to focus on myself. And I think it’s a bigger deal than I originally thought. In other words, when I focus on the fear, anger, division, or uncertainty in our world, I can turn inward and forget that Jesus calls me to turn outward and to face my neighbors.  It’s a simple question that you can ask yourself,  "As I experience the emotions of uncertainty, frustration, or discouragement that seem to be a part of our everyday lives, am I turning inward or outward toward the ones who need the hope of Jesus most?

In other words, two years from now, what if our culture looks back on this dark time and remembers how Christians went into “self-preservation mode”? Will they remember us for what we are against or will they remember us for who we are for?

But here’s the good news …unknowns and dark times seem to be when God shows up the most. It’s when His people wake up and show up as the light He’s called them to be. In the midst of darkness, we have hope and we are the light!  If people are going to know that Jesus is for them, they first need to know that we are for them.  But what does that look like in a year of a pandemic, civil unrest, and the political polarization that we are experiencing? How can you connect with the people who you know need the hope of Jesus?

Well, I’m glad you asked. Here are five simple ways to be for those around you who don’t have the hope you have.

1. Give them the gift everyone needs, ENCOURAGMENT!

Here’s the thing, no one you know is over encouraged.  In fact, if you took on this one challenge and spent your life encouraging everyone you know, I bet that you would have a line up of people at your funeral one day.
The past 13 months have been extremely difficult and people need encouragement like never before. They want to know people are for them! So call or text someone, and give them the gift of encouragement. Do it. In fact, do it right now. You’ll be amazed at what it will do for them.

2. Do the thing that we all can easily do, PRAY

You’ve heard me say, prayer isn’t the only thing we do, but it is the first thing we do.  And here’s the thing, we can pray for people in all kinds of ways. Sometimes I’ll pray with them over the phone, leave a prayer voicemail, email or text a personal prayer, or even pray for someone privately and text them in the middle of the prayer to let them know “I’m praying for you right now.” You see, the vast majority of people want prayer but have never experienced it. I’ve seen people be moved to tears when someone prays for them for the first time. Just reach out and let someone who is far from God know that you’re praying for them. Most of us who are Jesus followers take prayer for granted, but most unchurched people would love to experience it.

3. Start eating again with your friends

I’ll be the first to admit that I put on the COVID-19 pounds, but there’s something about food that brings people together and communicates that we care for each other. I think we all know that.  So, Invite a colleague or neighbor over for a dinner, or drop off a meal or a coffee. And make sure to make the conversation about them.  This simple act will show someone that you care. I promise you that doing this one act will change your heart. It will awaken you to Jesus’ love for you and for your neighbors.

4. Ask them the five-word question

“How are you doing…really?”  We ask this question with good intentions, but often times we never get to the “really” part of the question. We want to be courteous, but do we really want to listen? The people around you need someone to talk to who will listen. Someone who genuinely cares. Before COVID, so many people were already living lonely lives, and now that’s increased exponentially. In fact, there are so many people around us who don’t have family close by and don’t have many friends outside of work. There are people in your life that need you because they are alone, and that’s something Jesus would definitely do. Next time you’re near a person standing in line at the grocery story or outside the school, or next time you bump into someone you know at the soccer field, ask them this five-word question: “How are you doing…really?”

And do it more than once…because if you ask that question enough times eventually you will find someone who needs you just to listen.

5. Share what’s literally at your fingertips

One of the things that have become clear during these past 13 months is this, people are using the content that Central Lutheran is producing and sharing it with their family and friends. They are sharing past sermon series, directing them to the family ministry content, and telling them about our current teaching.  Want to hear something fun?  I’m hearing from people who find out months later that their friend watches regularly on Sundays after an invite, but they just didn’t tell them at first.

It’s amazing how one small share can make a huge difference for someone. Find something spiritually helpful? Share it. Moved by a song sung or something said in worship?  Share it. Maybe someone you know doesn’t follow Jesus but is looking. It’s so easy, now for than ever, to share Central and to share the Gospel with people.

Church,  let’s not use this time as an excuse to turn inward when the people around us need us most. Let’s be the Church.

#ForChippewa,

Pr Aaron

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