From our Acts 13–15 series, Gospel’s Edge, we see a deeply rich and practical combination of three things…the resurrection story of Jesus, authentic lives, and the work of the Spirit. As those three elements uniquely intersect at the life of a person who is suffering in some way, we enjoy the sacred privilege of seeing the life-altering mercy of God impact their soul!
2 Samuel 24:14 Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great…
Critical questions must be answered. Do our lives reflect a commitment to earnestly see this happen? How do we align our time and energies with God’s heart to be merciful? How do we become or facilitate pathways for God’s mercy?
Our friends at Community Christian Church in the Chicago area developed the B.L.E.S.S acrostic that we taught recently (listen to the “Gospel’s Edge | ‘Words'” sermon from 9/22/13). It’s a simple but powerful technique that helps align our lives with God in the hope that he might use us as a pathway in helping others to know the mercy of God.
I encourage you to adopt some form of this into the pattern and fabric of your life and look forward to God doing something inexplicable in you and for others good!
[B]egin with prayer. Never do we want to go it alone — we are co-laboring with God where He is already working. Let the Spirit guide your conversations and connections with those to whom you are engaging. Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord ’s purpose that prevails. Pray and be open to God’s direction…it’s often different than ours but always best. Pray first, “Lord, guide me in loving “my neighbor.” Reveal to me to person/people with whom you want me to serve or begin a conversation. And pray in confidence that God will be doing the heavy lifting of preparing and changing hearts.
[L]isten. Christians tend to talk too much and try to fix people’s stuff too quickly. Listen, and then listen more. And then listen the next time too. Listen for clues and opportunities for deeper questions or more specific prayer. Is the tired soccer mom communicating more than just a lack of sleep, but stress in her marriage? Is your neighbor going through a hard time and giving hints with his body language or relational hesitations? Listen intently to see where God is working in them. Pray and listen.
[E]at. Sharing a meal is a great way to engage people in deeper conversation. Sitting across the table with someone (and especially in the comfort of home) is a space of trust and equality…we all need and are dependent upon God for food. A meal affords the time and trust that the water cooler or little league game begin. Inviting someone in and sharing a meal levels the playing field while showing you care. Show you care.
[S]erve. Offering to help, showing up with a meal in a time of need, raking leaves or giving a ride are great ways to serve and show you care, which may lead to questions about your concern or motivation, but don’t let your service be merely a tool…let it be a sincere action without strings attached. Those acts may lead to more conversation, or a second look at your life and why you do the things you do.
[S]tory. Listen to theirs and be ready to share yours and God’s. The first four letters of the B.L.E.S.S. acronym open up new paths of conversation and relational vulnerability. You’ve earned the right to hear their story, and also the right to share your own. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” – 1 Peter 3:15 Sharing your story should always go back to the gospel — who you were before Jesus, how He gripped your heart, and what life is like following Him. Be authentic. Don’t use churchy words — be you!
BLESSing people primes the pump for the shocking and historic story of God’s Son. In the next blog, I’ll remind you of how you can re-tell that story on a foundation of just six words!
Be sure to utilize the sermon application questions to process each sermon and take a deeper dive with your Biblical community.