How to Make a Difference Without Adding Anything to Your Schedule

by | Aug 15, 2017

How to Make a Difference Without Adding Anything to Your Schedule

by | Aug 15, 2017

So you want to make a difference in the world, but you don’t feel like you have a spare minute in your schedule to add anything. What are you supposed to do?

Jesus gave us a great suggestion:

When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:12-14)

There are three things Jesus is calling us to do, and none of them require any additional time.

1. Identify.

Jesus is calling us to identify with the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind, not just the people we usually identify with and naturally hang out with. Why? Because we are the spiritually poor, the spiritually lame, and the spiritually blind, apart from the grace of Jesus. We’ve just forgotten it.

After a person becomes a Christian, guess how many non-Christian friends they have on average. Many people think it’s four or five but according to studies, the average answer is zero. We might have non-Christian acquaintances at work or school, but most Christians don’t have any real non-Christian friends. Our natural tendency is to just stick with our club. Just hang with our team. But it doesn’t take any extra time to be more intentional with the people on your campus, in your office, or on your job site. It just takes a little initiative to get to know them a little better.

Once you start to relate to them, you’ll be able to identify with them. You’ll understand their hopes and fears. You’ll know their longings, dreams, and aspirations. You’ll know what they love. What they hate. What they worship. Rather than judging them, you’ll begin to understand them and love them.

2. Invite.

Invite people into your life. And Jesus says the best way to do that is through a meal. It’s not an accident that Jesus talked about banquets and feasts and food all the time. Do you know what Jesus did to reach people? He didn’t run projects, or set up ministries, or put on events for people. He ate meals with people! Now, God uses projects and ministries and events (I would be out of a job if he didn’t), but those aren’t happening all the time. How often is there a church service? Once a week? How often is there a church event? Once a month at the most (at least in our church, where we deliberately schedule very few events)?

How often do you eat? Every one of those meals is an opportunity to invite someone into your life.

Now, how often do you eat? Two or three times a day? Every one of those meals is an opportunity to invite someone into your life. You have 21 opportunities a week, without adding anything to your schedule. If you’re eating dinner at home, why not invite someone else over? If you’re going out to lunch, why not invite someone from the office? If you’re planning a party, why not invite a few more people and make the food really good so they can’t wait to come?

I love how many purposeful parties get thrown by people in our church. For one family, if there’s a holiday, there’s guaranteed to be a party at their house. They’ve invited all their neighbors, all their friends, all the families from their kids’ sports teams, all their community group, and they’re all just having a great time. Sometimes they’ll close down the street and turn it into a block party! They’ll pray before the meal, so everyone knows this joyful celebration is a reflection of our joyful God and his generosity to us.

Parties are a great way to invite people into your life, And we’re planning our biggest party of the year in just a few weeks. On Sunday September 3 is our Great Fall Picnic, where we’ll have hundreds of people join us for our outdoor church service out under the monkeypod tree, then enjoy a free lunch and tons of fun family activities. We want to invite people to this party, as a way of inviting them into God’s party.

3. Embrace.

When you invite people into your life, they need to feel like they’re part of the family. Which can be tough if they’re not the kind of people you’re used to hanging out with.

After Jesus gave his challenge to invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind, he told a parable that illustrated it. A rich man gave a great banquet and ordered his servants to bring in not just the poor, but the homeless, the prostitutes, and the addicted. People from the “hedges and highways.”

What do you think it was like for the servants when all of these people got up from the gutters they were sleeping in, and started streaming in to the house? These people smell. They haven’t had a shower in a week. These people have no manners. They’ve never been to a banquet like this. They don’t know not to spit on the ground.

The servants were tempted to look down on all of these people coming in, but the banquet host wanted them to be treated like family. Because that’s what hospitality looks like. Hospitality is something that’s commanded over and over in the Bible. Do you know what the original Greek word means? It’s not just about baking cookies. Literally the Greek word means “Love of the Stranger.” Embracing people who are different, and making them feel like they’re part of the family.

That’s something you can do without adding anything to your schedule. You just need to add a little more compassion to your heart and intentionality to your time.