This post is part of my “stories” series. In this series, I share stories of how people live their lives in response to the gospel and as a demonstration of God’s love in order to teach us and to provide an example to provoke us to love and good works. (See “stories: A New Series” for more information about this series.)
A friend of mine works in a local Italian restaurants while he’s finishing college. He hopes to eventually open his own restaurant (see my post “Pastor of a Restaurant?“). While he makes pizzas at this restaurant to earn money, he doesn’t see his occupation as being separate from his life as a follower of Christ.
In fact, he’s introduced me to several co-workers with whom he’s talked about the gospel and community in Christ. He often invited his co-workers – believers and unbelievers – to his apartment. Since many of his co-workers are high school age, he spends alot of time playing video games with them.
He spent alot of time with one young man in particular. They would work together and play video games together. They would talk about Scripture, and Jesus, and church, and many other “spiritual” topics as part of their normal conversation. My friend introduced this young man to many people in the church, letting the community of Christ surround him with love and acceptance and encouragement. I wish I could say that this young man is now follow Christ, but I can’t. In fact, he recently moved to another state.
This young man lived near two men – he called them his “uncles” – they were homosexual. He introduced my friend to them. Last week, my friend found out that one of these “uncles” committed suicide, and the other one as AIDS.
My friend told the church about this situation Sunday. We prayed for them all, and then my friend went to visit the “uncle” with AIDS. Again, I wish I could say that this man decided to follow Christ, but he did not. But, my friend did reach out to him in spite of the stigma associated with his lifestyle and disease.
My friend is a constant reminder to me that living a missional life is not about whether or not people decide to follow Jesus. We cannot force people to believe and to become disciples. However, we can demonstrate the love of God to people. We can share the gospel and the community with them. We can love them, exhort them, encourage them, and spend time with them.
My friend is also a constant reminder not to separate my life into categories. Every aspect of life must be lived for Christ – whether I am teaching the church, or making pizzas. Every moment is a moment to speak or demonstrate the love and grace of God in Jesus Christ.