God has grown me a lot over the years. Although I don’t exactly know how I portrayed myself to people during my more youthful years, it’s likely I spewed some comments or acted in ways that prevented some from taking their first spiritual steps. I’m actually thankful we didn’t have social media in the ’90s because an unchecked version of a younger me would’ve likely made things much worse. (Unfortunately, I remember a few Christian conversations with nonbelievers that didn’t fare well.)
I grew up with a couple of female friends who shared the same interests as me. I was the only person in my circle who was saved, and eventually, I learned that they didn’t always include me in their full conversations. Someone decided to share that secret with me in our early 20s. They feared my Christian beliefs would end our friendship, so on occasion, they would purposely withhold the full story. My response was, “If my initial reaction was to stop being your friend, then I was never your friend to begin with.”
Part of their reason for finally telling me the truth was because they noticed my community service. I extended my friendship to everyone, not just to those who looked and thought like me. They said I shared my identity without attempting to shove it down anyone’s throat, and those qualities erased any doubts they had about my possible (over)reactions.
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
I’m not saying I helped those friends take their next spiritual step, but I kept the door open by letting them see my genuine intentions and loving them—because they were worth loving. It’s that simple. I try to do the same for anyone I encounter, even if I fail more than I would like.
A few weeks ago, I had lunch with two of the friends from that same circle who hadn’t spoken to each other in 17 years. My buddy told us his fiancé’s mother recently passed. Hootie and another from CedarCreek delivered loving words during the eulogy.
He shared this with me since he knew my family attended CedarCreek from my social media posts. He thanked me for how my wife and I chose to raise our kids and shared his appreciation for everything the church did to help throughout the grieving process. Although he’s not sure what he believes in, he sees the benefit of living life differently than before.
I pray that we all share Christ’s love with those around us and keep our “doors open.” Eventually, someone will show up—be ready!
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Do you believe you can help others take their next spiritual step?
Invite someone to join the Group you’re in or text “GROUPS” to 419-419-0707 to find out what is available. Take part in and mention GrowthTrack so you and others can discover God’s purpose in your lives. Don’t be afraid to keep inviting someone to church.
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Day 19 Focus – To be Broken Before Him (Psalm 51:17)
Dear God, I have missed the mark of righteousness many times. Yet while I was still separated from you, you loved me and sent your Son to die for me. Thank you, Lord. Today, I offer my broken spirit to you, for you alone can make it whole. I come to you asking for forgiveness from (insert areas of sin here), knowing I need you. Heal me, God. Teach my heart to break for what breaks yours. In your Son’s name I pray, amen.)
Day 20 Focus – For Growth (Ephesians 4:15)
Heavenly Father, I am not who I was before I met you—and it’s all because of you. Thank you for the growth I have been through, and thank you that you’re not finished with me yet! Teach me to be more and more like your Son every day. Help me to submit humbly to the situations you use to change my heart, even when I wouldn’t choose them for myself. Above all else, may I grow in love for you and for others. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Day 21 Focus – To Praise Him (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Dear Father, I praise you for all you have done in my life and in my heart over these last 21 days. Thank you for drawing close to me and for leading me. Help me to continue growing and taking steps toward you throughout this year, so that I might know you more and make a difference for you. Amen.
This post was written by Jaron Camp. Jaron is a storyteller and a professional ghostwriter who enjoys using his gifts to write for the LivingItOut. When he’s not developing fictional worlds, researching, and writing, Jaron enjoys watching sports, participating in family game night, and spending time with his wife and four kids.
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