Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Be There

Getting someone to God doesn't mean you have to be a preacher, a door-knocker, a strong witness, or even particularly articulate.  It means that simply, you have to be there.

That's it.  Your presence is the single greatest evangelistic tool you have for bringing persons into the presence of God.

Not because you're so obviously holy.  Not because you're better than the lost sheep.  Not because you understand some hidden mystery of what God is.  Not because your presence is even a millionth of God's presence.

But because it is our presence that answers the two deepest questions people have when they are searching for God:

 - How can I trust a God I have not seen?
- How could my life possibly be better with God in it?

These are two of the common questions that cause the heart to hesitate.  For persons asking the first question - how can I trust I have not seen (and cannot see) - the question is a deeper one of - how can I trust in anything?

A lot of people grow up learning to trust in themselves.  Learning to make their own way.  Learning to lean on a very select few, if any at all.  And they grow old trusting only what they've got their hands on because somewhere, all of us have been disappointed by others we've chosen at one point or another to trust.  We let each other down.  We let ourselves down.  When we trust so deeply in our few and in ourselves and find that even these things are not always faithful, how are we supposed to trust in an other-realmly God we haven't seen, haven't touched, haven't talked to, haven't heard?

Your presence is part of the answer to that question.  It's part of the barrier-breaking process.  Which is why when you decide to step into someone's journey and stand in front of their heart with an open invitation, you absolutely have to follow-through.  You have to stay, even when it feels like you're getting nowhere.  (Until and unless one party makes it clear the invitation is closed.)  If you back down or back out, you are one more reason not to trust anyone...and one more reason not to trust God.  If you stay, maybe you're the person they discover they can lean on.  They, for a minute, don't have to do life themselves any more.  You start to break down that long-held belief that they are all they've got and maybe they start to feel like they don't have to be strong and they don't have to be lonely.

Bonus: The longer you're around, the more they can see you trusting in God, leaning on Him for His wisdom in your presence there.  And they more they start to wonder just how you can trust so easily.  Door. Opened.

The second question is equally painful: people are either so wrapped up in their emptiness or so confident in their circumstance that they don't really see how things would be different if God was present.  They see God as a neutral party in their lives, that however things are is however they are and whoever they are is whoever they are and these things are not going to change.  God is not going to make a difference.

Then you show up.  You get to hang out and be there, and they start to get a glimpse of your life.  They look into the window of you and maybe get a little jealous that you are...whatever you are and they're not...whatever you are.  That thing they've always wanted that they couldn't have, or that thing they have never been and think they could never be.  But the more you're around them, your flaws show.  And they start to see you as a real human being, too.  They start to get a glimpse of your story, of who you are at your core.

Which is frequently very different than who you are after God's gotten into you.  It doesn't have to be dramatic - not everybody is a Saul turned Paul - but some of the more subtle changes matter.  Some of the simple graces.  These are the things that stand out.

Because it doesn't matter how set-in-stone we think our lives are.  There are always these nagging little things we wish we could change about all this.  About us.  The more you give your presence to a seeking heart, the more they see your little changes.  The more they start to thirst for their own.  The more they start to wonder how you did it.  The more you have the chance to just be honest about yourself and share a greater gift - the presence of God.

These things are not a formula.  They aren't a script or even a tract.  The most powerful evangelism you've got is you just being you.  Being everything you are, whatever that looks like, because everyone seeking is everything they are and they're looking for that authenticity.  Just as a mirror, you invite them to see them by just being you.  And being there.  

And they start to get a glimpse of this character greater than both of you, this Father that defines your life and whose greatest potential you see in them.  They start to get an image of God just being God.

Everyone just gets to be.  That's where hearts are opened.  You being you.  Them being them.  God being God.  It's just that simple.

Be there.

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