What does it mean to live on mission?
To live on mission is simply to live your life with a conscious intention of sharing the gospel with those around you. And sharing the gospel simply means talking with them about the new life and forgiveness Jesus offers.
But if you’re like many Christians, sharing the gospel with your neighbors feels as impossible as climbing Mount Everest.
I think much of that feeling of impossibility comes from a misunderstanding of what it means to share the gospel. When Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors (Mark 12:31) he was describing a lot more than sharing a pamphlet and a salvation prayer. He was talking about spiritual and physical acts of love that are motivated by the same love we’ve received in Christ.
Jesus knows your neighbors
Gospel sharing is so much about knowing who you’re talking with. In John 4, when Jesus talks to the Samaritan woman, he lets the woman know that he truly knows her. In fact the Scripture says she told everyone, “Come and see the man who told me everything I ever did.”
Jesus knew everything about her. Of course, we’re not Jesus. It takes time and effort for us to know our neighbors, and that’s OK.
Here are three ideas for living on mission in your neighborhood that have worked for me.
1. Meet your neighbors
Start with a piece of paper and write down the names of your immediate neighbors. Can you write down the names of their neighbors too? If you’re unsure of any of the names, make it a point to get their names.
Getting their names can be as simple as knocking on their door and asking them.
Just stop and think about how much better of a neighbor you can be once you know who your neighbors are. You can pray for them by name, you can say hi to them by name, you’ll know where to find them if their mail accidentally comes to you… the list goes on.
2. Serve your neighbors
Being served feels really good. Depending on who you are and where your life happens, you may or may not experience service on a regular basis.
Regardless, Jesus himself modeled the perfect servant. In fact, in Mark 10:45 Jesus tells us that he came to serve. Think of what it could be like if you took on this attitude toward your neighbors and began serving them.
Before your mind runs too far, I’m not talking about offering to clip their toenails or something weird like that. Serve them by inviting them over for coffee or a meal. You could also serve a neighbor by cutting his or her lawn.
Get creative. I’m sure your ideas are better than mine.
3. Pray for your neighbors
If you were to pick only one of these three steps to do as you try to build a relationship with your neighbors, pick prayer. Prayer helps to move us away from self-dependance to God-dependence. Dan Hayes describes it well.
“I need to listen to Him, and I desperately need to talk to Him. Where and how is all this done? In prayer.”
Prayer helps us remember that while God desires to use us, it’s ultimately God who works in our neighbors’ lives. If you’re like me, you’re flat scared to open your mouth and talk to people you do not know. I could give you a hundred reasons why I’m scared. But ultimately those reasons are mostly about me.
When I shift and see God as the one doing the work and God as the one they are experiencing, suddenly the burden is a bit lighter. Ephesians 3:14 gives a great prayer framework that we can pray over 2000 years later.
Whether you’re praying, serving or meeting, I’m excited — and most importantly, God is thrilled — that you’re taking a step of faith and caring for your neighbor. I’d love to hear from you. And I’d love to know about other ways you’re reaching your neighbors with God’s love and learning to live on mission.