No matter what happens in the world, we are called to be a blessing. Discipleship is about changing the world through living into and living out the grace of God! When disciples of Jesus make disciples of Jesus who are equipped and motivated to make more, they change the world in the right direction by imitating Jesus. When Jesus initiated this, the ruthless, powerful Roman Empire was in charge. The followers of Jesus began to live and draw others into a better way of life. Jesus initiated sustainable change in the right direction. Whenever his followers have taken discipleship seriously, the same things has happened—change in the right direction.
But in order to be disciples who is equipped and motivated to make disciples, we must understand that we are sent by Jesus to be a blessing to the world. In John 20:21, We are told that Jesus breathed on his disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Then Jesus told them, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” That sending extends to us today. Jesus sends us.
But in America and even on the First Coast, followers of Jesus are often known for being against things. Some Christians have engaged in social and political causes very publically, and often not very politely. So our reputation is somewhat earned, if not deserved. But what can we do?
The best way is to love our neighbors with the love of Jesus. A great guide that will help us get out there and engage the world in a positive way is to develop the BELLS lifestyle. When we do this, we shine. Bless three people each week—one who isn’t a Christian. Eat with three people each week– One who isn’t a Christian. Listen for the Spirit when you pray. Learn Christ by reading the Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. And finally, See yourself as sent.
Jot down names and ideas under each, pray it through, and encourage one another to step out in action!
B: Bless three people this week – When God called Abraham, he told him he had blessed him to be a blessing. (Genesis 12:2) The same extended to his descendants and through Christ extends to us. How can we bless people? Here are a few ways: encourage them, serve them, give a gift, write a card, clean up a street, meet a need, or just stop by to say hello and take interest in them. Put a little thought and effort into the best way to bless someone you know. Also, bless at least one person who you think is not a Christian.
E: Eat with three people this week— (or just have a cup of coffee). When we eat together, we tend to share more of ourselves with those with whom we are eating. We encourage eating with three people: eat with someone else who is a follower of Jesus, with someone who you think may not be a Christian, and with someone (anyone) else as you have opportunity. Sit down with them, look them in the eye, and have a conversation. You get to know someone at a deeper level when you eat something together. You cannot begin to love people well until you begin to know them well.
L: Listen for the Spirit— Pray and listen for God. As you pray, how is the Spirit leading you? Who is he bringing to mind? What is the Spirit saying? How is the Spirit leading? Will you respond? If you have a kairos, work your way around the learning circle. To help with this, we encourage contemplative reading of scripture and prayer.
L: Learn Christ—Read from the Bible in the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) in order to learn the way Jesus lived, and consider how you might imitate him. We encourage reading a story about Jesus or paying attention to a teaching of Jesus and considering what we are called to do in response. Another way to learn Christ is through watching one of the many movies made about Jesus and let his lifestyle challenge you. Finally, we encourage learning from someone else who is following Jesus in ways that encourage or challenge you.
S: See Yourself as Sent—As the Father sent Jesus, so Jesus has sent you. (John 20:21). We are a sent people. Part of what it means to be missional to understand that God has a mission to bless and redeem the world. God sent himself in the person of Jesus: The Father sent the Son! And Jesus, who was sent to us, now sends us. Our life is meant to be a response to the loving action of God! We are a sent people.
This lifestyle resonates wonderfully with the blessing that Dick Halverson (former U.S. Senate Chaplain) used for years. Receive these words: “You go no where by accident. Wherever you go, God is sending you. Wherever you find yourself, God has a reason for your being there. Christ who lives in you by the power of the Holy Spirit has something he desires to do in you and through you wherever you find yourself. I encourage you to believe this and go in His grace, His love, and His power. Amen.” Dick Halverson called that simple benediction, pronounced week after week, the most effective part of his ministry. That’s because it reminded people they were sent to be a blessing. And so are we.
If you want to learn more about this, Michael Frost has written a book called, Surprise the World: The Five Habbits of Missional People.
Questions for reflection:
1) Where can you do this?
2) Who can you bless this week?
3) Who can you eat with/share a cup of coffee with this week?
4) What are some ideas for blessing others.
5) Do you have time to listen for the Spirit and to learn Christ?
6) Is God saying anything to you? What will you do about it?