As a pastor, I am often asked: How can I make Jesus known to my neighbors? And how can I possibly make a big impact for him in my community as I am called to do?
When I am asked these questions, I cannot help but wonder if sometimes we overthink the job Jesus has given us to do for him. As I dig a little deeper and try to get at the root of these questions with those who ask them, the responses I receive often confirm my hunch.
What I have discovered over the years may seem familiar to you.
I have found that many followers of Jesus are paralyzed by fear because they worry they are neither qualified nor trained to do the work he has given them. They think they must possess just the right knowledge, or they must have the exact words, or they must follow a precise formula, or something else like this before they start.
Do you recognize any of this in yourself? Have you chosen not to start your work for Jesus because you think you do not have what it takes to do the work?
In Acts 9:32-43 we encounter an instructive story about the Apostle Peter and his ministry to Aeneas and Tabitha.
Peter is going about seeking those who are sick or poor and caring for them. He soon finds a man named Aeneas, who is paralyzed. Like the Good Samaritan, Peter does what he can to heal him. Eventually, Peter lifts Aeneas up in spirit and body by the love and aid he renders. All those who see Peter’s good deeds, the story says, turn to the Lord.
Then there is Tabitha. As a follower of Jesus, she is always doing good and helping the poor. Because of the generosity of her love and the compassion behind her actions, her faith in Jesus is renowned and the impact she is making for Jesus is widely felt. She heals many wounds and alleviates much suffering. This, too, turns many to the Lord.
If we want to make Jesus known and make a big impact for him in our neighborhood, all we need is love in our hearts and mercy in our deeds. We need to simply start our work by seeking and finding the sick or poor wherever they are and caring for them. Whenever we are seen doing this, we, too, will turn many to the Lord.