Springtime brings the annual rite of military transitions. The newly commissioned arrive at their first bases; one third of the active force changes station; and young people leave friends and change schools. While it is a challenging time, it is also a time to reach out anew with the hand of fellowship. Some reflections on Jesus’ earthly ministry may apply.
In the Great Commission Jesus told us to “Go.” Some translate it as “As you are going, go” or “Go, going’ly.” It implies a willingness and effort to expend the energy to connect at places you may not naturally frequent. Jesus not only told us to “Go,” He did it. He went to the boats to call fishermen to follow. He went to a pool at Bethesda to heal a lame man. He engaged the Samaritan woman at the well she used for herself. After the man born blind was cast out by authorities, Jesus sought him out to serve Him further with words of life.
Let’s go to where they are and not wait for them to come to us. We can seek out new people after the Chapel service, meet them at the in-processing sites for new arrivals, and start casual discussions amid the daily chores of life. We can go with a mindset of going as Jesus did.
Jesus knew the uniqueness of each He encountered and then served them in that context. His invitation to fishermen was framed in words familiar to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Before healing the lame man at the pool of Bethesda, He went beyond the man’s physical infirmity by asking a penetrating question, “Do you want to be made well?” The loaves and the fishes were multiplied because it was mealtime and people were hungry. In contrast, many religious leaders of the day would insist on their own context of religious law and thereby miss the entire point of their calling.
When going, focus on their lives rather than your own interests. We are making a future friend, not an OCF sale. Discussion starters may be “Tell me about your family,” “How has this move been for you?”, “What are your interests as you get settled?” Get to know them as real people; serve them in their life context.
The professional background of those Jesus called included four fishermen, a tax collector, and a revolutionary. They also had vastly different temperaments and biases. Varied parts make up His one body.
Swing wide the doors of your fellowship. While the unity of a group is great strength, it can become weak with insularity and fruitless through sterile uniformity. Risk stretching your perspective by welcoming those not quite the same as you.
Transitions are certainly a challenge, yet also filled with the potential to renew, refresh, and revitalize. Let’s do our part as leaders for the latter three.