In January of 2018, I moved to Iowa to work as the Student Ministry Director for Westwind Church. In Iowa I had no family, no friends, the only person I knew was my boss, Jason. Though the reason for my move was pretty un-profound, God has taught me many profound lessons. One of these lessons was seeing “simply love Jesus” in action. If I wanted to put this lifestyle to the test, this was a good opportunity. I knew barely anyone around me, I had no reputation, no one knew who I was, I was a clean slate.
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The area of town where my one-bedroom apartment was located was very popular. One location, in particular, was an establishment that sold not only really good food, but they also sold, how do I put this… “adult beverages.” The first time I visited this place was for lunch.
$12 Meal, $20 Tip
I remember sitting down and a waitress introduced herself and asked what I would like to eat or drink. I asked what she would recommend. She began to brag on how good their chicken wings are, I was sold and ordered myself some (and they were indeed, very good.) A week or so later I came back, got the same waitress. I remembered her name, and then I asked how she was doing.
“Good,” she replied.
“No, how are you really doing?” I asked.
She proceeded to tell me how if she were honest, she was pretty stressed out. She had a job interview coming up, plus, she had some pretty rude customers throughout her day. All I did was listen. At the end of my meal, I wanted to make sure she had at least one good smile on her face. So for a $12 meal, I left a $20 tip. Why? Because I wanted her to know that I simply cared about her.
The Hispanic Oprah?
I continued to visit that same waitress. And the more I visited, the more I got to know other employees as well. After a
Now a lot of these employees would work from
There was a
“YOU GET A TACO!”
“YOU GET A TACO!”
“EVERYBODY GETS A TACO!!”
Why did I spend my personal money on tacos for every employee? Because I wanted them to know I simply cared about them.
Fast forward several more months. At this point, every employee at the time knew who I was. Every waitress, waiter, bouncer, manager, etc. They all knew me, and I knew them. I would get text messages, asking whether I was going to show up that evening to hang out. If I wasn’t there for a week or so, I would get messages asking where I had been.
From Tacos to Jesus
One evening, the fruit of my generosity produced. I had stayed up late, just talking to employees and strangers as I usually would. And one employee had enough of it, they came up to me and said, “What’s your deal?!”
“What?” I asked, very confused.
“You come in here all the time, being all nice to us, bringing free tacos, giving audacious sized tips, you stay up late and offer to help for free. Why are you like this? What’s your deal?”
I just laughed and said, “I just love you all. And I love you all, because I have been first been so loved.” And right then, after almost a year of investing in these people, we were able to have what turned into a conversation until 4:00am about grace, love, mercy, Jesus, the Church, Christianity, they were able to hear the gospel presented with an open mind and heart.
This person did not like Christians. They believed Christians were:
And more. So how was it that this person was able to hear the gospel from me? What made me different from all the other people who claimed to be a Christian? It’s simple, they knew I cared. People want to know that you care before they want to know what you care about.
That is the biggest mistake every Christian can make when sharing their faith, they tell people what they care about before the other person understands that they actually care about them as a person. Which is why arguments via social media never go over well. The lack of a personal relationship sets you up for failure. And every time you feel compelled to declare your false sense of God’s will on public post comment, all you do is contribute to that list of things people will think of when they hear the word “Christian.”
*GASP* Jesus Did What?!
You know, Jesus was a great example of what it means to show people that you care before telling them what he cared about. In Matthew 9, Jesus was invited over to Matthew the Tax Collectors house to eat and chill. Tax Collectors were despised in the community. But it wasn’t just tax collectors.
“Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”Matthew 9:10-11
Notice how it says “and other disreputable sinners.”? Who were they? Basically the people you wouldn’t like. The people who make the blood of your people group boil. You know who they are.
Jesus spent his time investing in these people he was invited because they believed that he cared about them, and because of that they wanted to know what he cared about. In those days, by being a dinner guest you established a friendship. And in those days, they didn’t have chairs as we do. They had couches or cushions that were designed to be in a reclined posture. So when you were eating dinner, you were relaxing, you were enjoying yourself, you were chillin’ with these people.
Jesus would have been chilling with the people your friends tweet angrily about.
Jesus also preached the good news and made it a point to teach them, and he had a firm conviction of what he believed in. Not long after he even uses the language to say that his new friends are like people with an illness and he is the doctor. So, don’t think that you have to sacrifice your convictions to make friends with those who would disagree with you.
But what I am saying is that if you want other people to know what you care about, you first need to show them that you care about them. Because people want to know that you care before they want to know what you care about.
Keep It Practical
So what are you doing to show others that you care? Are you tipping your waiters and waitresses? Tip well, because they remember. ( I’m talking specifically to you, after-church Sunday crowd. ) Are you being consistent in the lives of other people who you want to see know Jesus? Maybe you need to do what I do and give out free tacos to people who you have built relationships with.
I pray I can always be the person who first proves that he cares for people before sharing his opinion. I hope I can be the person who, despite being a Christian, is invited to a lunch party with those from the LGBTQ+ or even Atheist gatherings. I hope I can be invited to so many diverse events, simply because the people inviting me would know that I sincerely care about them.But whatever you do, don’t tell others what you care about before proving to them that you care about them. Because people want to know that you care before they want to know what you care about.
You need to simply love Jesus. You need to let everything you are and do start and revolve around a lifestyle of loving Jesus. Choose to love God and let your love for Him inspire a desire in you to know who He is as a person. While learning who He is as a person, move to show God that you love Him by doing what makes Him happy: loving Him and loving others.
Imagine what it would look like if everyone worked to show others that they cared about them before they told them what they cared about? Wow, our world would look so different. At the least, the world would see Christians the way God intended them to be seen, not how they are currently seen. I want Christians to see each other the way God wanted, to have harmony even when there is diversity in Biblical beliefs.
But it’s in your hands, you have to choose to show people that you care. When you’ve put in the hard work and they believe that you truly care, then you can start to tell them what you care about.