Matthew 22:37-40 ESV
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” But how do you intentionally invest in the life of a non-Christian? It is as easy as it sounds; you just love them where they are.
It matters who we invest in or spend our time with. When I read about Jesus’ life on earth, I’m reminded of how He intentionally loved and invested in His 12 apostles: Peter, Andrew, John, Judas (son of James, Jude), Philip, Nathanael, Thomas, James, Matthew, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot (the one who would betray Him). These men were not all Christians when Jesus met them, but all of these men, save one, we call heroes of the faith. Eleven of these men had such complete faith in Jesus as King that they were martyred for their belief.
To intentionally invest in the life of non-Christians we must do 3 things: 1st be on mission with Jesus, 2nd use the method of Jesus, and 3rd live the message of Jesus.
- Be on mission with Jesus. Matthew 28:19 says “Go and make disciples”. The command is not so much about going out looking for non-Christians as it is just being relational with all the people you encounter. It is about taking every opportunity to speak to people, to look into their eyes when they speak to you, and to ask good questions (stay curious). It is about intentionally being on mission.
- Using the method of Jesus. When I think of the method of Jesus, I am reminded of how Jesus is always in a relational environment in scripture. He invited people to sit with Him. He went to their homes and places of work. He met people where they were, even the ones who would betray him! The method of Jesus is not circumstantial: its relational. For us to imitate the method of Jesus, we need to engage with people. We can invite our neighbors over for supper or to a small group or invite them to join us at church or community events. By taking the time to talk with people, we begin to understand where they are spiritually. Once you know someone, you are able to ask more specific and deeper questions to develop greater understanding and build more meaningful relationships. When we start to invite others into our life, we are investing into theirs.
- Live the message of Jesus. Reading John 3:16-17 ESV  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” and Matthew 22:39 ESV  “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”, we clearly see the message of Jesus is love. Just love people where they are! You don’t have to condone their behavior to make someone feel loved. Loving someone enough to tell them the truth is a real love and a kind of love that is missing quite often in the world. Investing your time in others is the “agape”, sacrificial love we see modeled when Jesus loved us such that he would lay His life down on the cross for our sins. Likewise, we should sacrificially love others.
You’ve heard it before and I’ll state it again, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
This post originally appeared at Loving A Neighbor Intentionally | Relational Discipleship Network (rdn1.com)