When Jesus sent out the seventy-two to proclaim the Kingdom of God, he gave them very specific instructions. He said, “Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you…Do not move from one house to another. Cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’” (Luke 10:7-9)
These instructions provide an important message to all Christians who are trying to share their faith with others: Build relationships, serve people’s needs, and then share your faith and proclaim the kingdom of God.
How often have we tried to share our faith without first having established a relationship? Without the credibility of a relationship, without serving someone’s needs, our words about God and the life he offers through his Son and the Holy Spirit may ring hollow.
After Jesus called Matthew, he dined and spent time with Matthew’s tax collector friends. He invited himself to lunch with another tax collector, Zacchaeus. He stayed on two days with the Samaritans after encountering the woman at the well, and John’s Gospel reports many became believers. (John 4:39)
The Parable of the Yeast seems to confirm the need to mix it up with the world in our relationships. “The kingdom of heaven [God] is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.” (Matthew 13:33) The yeast, which is the good news, needs to mix with the flour, which is the world, in order that the dough, God’s kingdom, can rise.
In my own walk, I can think of several people who reached out to me with sincere friendship that deepened my faith walk. There was Father John, who gave me instruction to join the Catholic Church when I was a teenager. We shared many hours together in our mutual love of music, in addition to his individual instructions about the faith.
In my mid-thirties there was Ann, a fellow teacher of Religious Education to teenagers in our church. Ann had the radiance and joy of the Lord. She kept inviting my wife and me to various charismatic Christian events, which resulted in my meeting Jesus in an entirely new way and experiencing a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
In my mid-40’s, I was introduced to Christians in Commerce, a Christian outreach to business, that helped me better live out my faith in the workplace. All three founders of this ministry, who lived in different cities, spent time guiding me in becoming a better Christian at work. They offered witness and friendship, and stayed with us whenever they were in town.
Like the seventy-two, Jesus sends us out and instructs us to build relationships, serve people’s needs, and then proclaim that the kingdom of God is at hand.
How do you build relationships in order to share about Jesus?