Friday, November 7, 2014

Investing Time

     I've mentioned before here how much I fear we as Christians prefer discussing deep theology over actually applying the things Jesus taught to our lives. Deep theology is great, but the reason it's great is that it increases our understanding of Christ and the gospel, and that understanding should result in fruit.

     I think one of the most neglected areas in my life is patience with other people. There isn't a whole lot that irritates me more than someone rambling on and on about a topic I don't find interesting. I know, kinda selfish, but still! I really struggle with showing patience with other people, sitting still and listening to other people talk, and so on.

     The problem with that is that that is not what I see Jesus doing in the Bible. Jesus, of all people, had the right to pronounce a topic too unimportant for his notice, yet we see him show an astounding quantity of patience with other people (John 4:3-27). I mean, really, you have to have an enormous amount of patience to keep ministering to people who watch you perform miracles but don't believe you're God, or to hear your disciples bickering from the beginning to the end of your ministry about who will be first in Heaven, even down to the Last Supper. We all know how it feels to be trying to teach someone something and they just don't get it. Imagine how often that must have happened to Jesus, who possessed all knowledge, because we see it recorded constantly in the gospels. That's patience!

     What we see Jesus doing constantly is spending time with people, speaking to the crowds one minute (Matt. 5-7), then sitting down the disciples and talking and asking them questions (Mk. 8:27-33, John 14), and later spending time with a Pharisee (John 3), and then some with friends (Lk. 10:38-42), and healing the wounded (Mk 10:46-52). In each of these cases, Jesus is spending time talking to people, pointing them to the gospel and to a further relationship with himself, or addressing a need in their lives, whether that is through a long sermon, or asking questions about their understanding of who He was, or sharing the gospel, or just teaching Mary and Martha, or using his power to heal. In any of those cases, we see Jesus taking time to invest in people.

     I think if we try to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we should do the same. Take the time to talk to someone about Jesus, discuss a Scripture with some friends, listen to a friend's problems.

     One of the biggest regrets I have was how I responded to a boy I use to train in taekwondo with. This guy's father was out of the picture, was very different from me and had a very different worldview, and the result was, I avoided him at every possible turn. I, unfortunately, did not help my dad plan an fishing outing with him like my dad proposed, mostly because I didn't like how awkward it was to hang out with this guy. I regret that now, strongly, because several months after our discussion about taking him on an outing, this guy tried to commit suicide. He moved away before my Dad and I could talk to him again. Talk about a lost opportunity, and that because I didn't want to be awkward!

     It's really easy to write off people because it may be awkward to listen to their way of life, especially if they're an unbeliever. It's really easy to ignore someone just because we don't want to take the time to listen to them. It's really easy to procrastinate and think, "I'll listen to them when I have more time." That day rarely comes.

     We should take the time to invest in each other's lives. When a friend needs to talk, don't just cut him off and switch the topic. If a friend needs encouragement, give some encouragement. Invest your time in someone else's life. Sure, it may be awkward, but get over it. You'll live, and you'll probably be helping your friend out.

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