This post is a call to action, a challenge to open our eyes, an appeal to really look around. Mostly, I would like for you to understand a danger in our churches and in our Christian social circles. I’ll call it “the cocoon mentality.”
The Church Cocoon—All your friends are in your church. All your social life revolves around church activities. Outside of church, the only things you do are buying groceries and necessities.
The Family Cocoon—Especially those with large families find it hard to get out of the house. (Not a criticism, just an observation. There’s a lot of work to bringing up a large family!) Sometimes, parents and children can be so wrapped up in their own family that they never break out, and they never really make friends outside the walls of their own home.
The Social Cocoon—You only associate with other Christians. I’m not against Christian friendships, you understand, and I believe it’s best that your closest friends are Christians. But, if you don’t have friendships—really knowing people—outside of Christians, it’s because you live in a cocoon. Do you know any unsaved people? Do you really understand people who don’t yet know the Lord?
The Outreach Cocoon—It sounds like a misnomer, but there are some Christians who only reach out in ministry to those who live in their own comfort zone. They reach out to are people they’d probably befriend in the first place. Now, I believe you should definitely reach out to those who are naturally around you. Absolutely. But, maybe we limit ourselves by not making an effort to see all the other needy people.
The Oblivious Cocoon—We don't want to see sin and its consequences. Sin is ugly. But, the people in addictions and sinful lifestyles are people for whom Christ died. They have every bit as much value as anyone else. They are loved by our merciful God. Do you know any drug addicts, prostitutes, alcoholics, lesbians, or gamblers? Have you ever met anyone who’s done time in prison? Have you ever visited a crisis pregnancy center or a rescue mission? Are you in touch with businessmen and women who need God? Do you know any Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, or New Age followers? Do you know what Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others believe? Are you in touch with your community?
Have you ever thought about emerging from your cocoon and stretching your wings? Here are some ideas for changing the way you live. Beware! You'll see sights you never saw before, make friendships that are more challenging than ever before, you'll feel more fulfilled than ever before—and you might just get a front-row seat to a miracle or two!
- Pray. Ask the Lord to show you those to whom He wants you to minister. He will! If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (James 1:5).
- Read news magazines and watch the TV news. I know there’s a lot of bad news out there, but a Christian is more effective if he knows something about the world around him. If he understands current events, politics, and knows about news in his community, he has something to talk about (besides the weather) with normal people.
- Look around you. Look for needy people. (Hint: Everyone is needy!) Search for the withdrawn, the sad, your neighbors, the poor, the addicts, the young, and the old. Look for openings to befriend real, live people. Be patient. Be loving. Be a friend. Most of all, be aware of people.
- Get involved in a ministry that gets you out into the real world. Here are some ideas: charities, soup kitchens, pantries, Reformers Unanimous and other good groups working with addictions, pregnancy crisis centers, reading discussion groups, a neighborhood Bible study that you start in your home, children’s Bible club in your neighborhood or bus ministry, hospital visitation, rescue mission, retirement homes, etc. (I’m sure you’ve already thought of more!) If you don’t know where to start, ask your pastor for recommendations.
- If you’re a parent (and especially if you homeschool), make sure your children are exposed to unsaved people and learn to love them as they are. It’s a shame when children have no idea how to connect with others, merely because they’re ignorant. Yes, protect them, but also expose them. Make them a part of your family ministry. Help them love others.
- Be non-condemning and compassionate. Sin is sin, and it’s ugly. We know that. But some Christians slam everyone for their sins. “Sinner!” This is just plain wrong! That person is someone Jesus loves. That person only needs to be introduced to their loving Savior. That person has an eternal soul and he is precious to the Lord. Jesus went looking for the lost sheep. Your model is Jesus. He came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). I think it’s helpful to remember where we were before we trusted Christ. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11).
- Share Christ. It’s great to provide a meal, encourage, empathize, and all the rest, but if you don’t share the gospel, you’ve missed the most important thing. The gospel will change lives. Jesus has the power to help people defeat addictions and depression. The Lord will make people completely new and give them peace. Jesus saves! Always share Jesus. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). The gospel is: the death of Jesus to pay for our sins personally, His burial, and His resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) It’s so easy to share Christ with others!
Now, spread your wings and fly!
And, may God bless you.