The women in your neighborhood are likely to spend five hours and 24 minutes each month following their Facebook friends.
Facebook has replaced face-to-face, heart-to-heart conversations. We tweet instead of talk. Our electronic disconnect means we’re “friends” without being friendly. Our status updates are witty and cute, with pictures of our darling children and amazing vacations. It’s entirely possible to have an impossibly long list of virtual friends, yet there’s no one to look into your eyes and see your pain, your sorrow or your joy. Women are starved for personal attention, meaningful relationships and purposeful lives.
Your neighborhood – on the road between church and home – is a convenient, comfortable and non-threatening place to invite women into relationship with you, take them by the hand, and walk with them to the throne of grace where they can meet their Savior. Walking on the road between the temple in Jerusalem and their hometown of Emmaus, the disciples said “some of our women amazed us” with their testimony about Christ (Luke 24:22). You can be one of the “amazing women” who tells your neighbor that Jesus is alive. He is real. He is present. He loves her, and He cares for her! You become the living Bible and open the Scriptures to her.
Do you know your neighbors?
- How many of your neighbors could you greet by name?
- When was the last time you shared a meal with a neighbor?
- How do you serve your neighbors?
- If you needed help, could you call a neighbor?
- Do your neighbors call you when they need a stick of butter?
- What is your next door neighbor’s most pressing need?
No detailed demographic studies are needed for your own neighborhood: inside every home are women who are hurting and hungering for the Lord. You are surrounded by young singles and new moms, women raising teenagers while caring for elderly parents, empty nesters and widows. They are churched and unchurched, sick and well, happy and sad. Some are executives, others are homemakers. Their common denominator is they live near you, a woman with a passion for loving them like Jesus, and their common need is to know Christ.
Like the disciples walking to Emmaus, your neighbors probably know the basics: Jesus was a great man, He was crucified, He died, some people said He rose again. This is about as far as most people get in the Gospel, and many are as discouraged as the disciples were.
“Religion isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I tried church, but it didn’t do me any good. I prayed a whole bunch of prayers. He didn’t answer any of them. I still lost my job. My kids still hate me. I don’t know what’s the big deal with all that Jesus stuff.”
This is the heartsick woman who hasn’t met Jesus on her road home from church.
Jesus met the disciples right where they needed Him, on the road between worship and work. He went into their home in Emmaus and sat down with them at the table. The children hurried to put away their toys and wash their faces as their wives reached for an extra bowl. Each of them spooned out a little less soup so they’d have enough for their unexpected guest.
This was not a miraculous meal, like the feeding of the thousands. It was not a sacramental meal, like the Last Supper. This was a common meal, at the table, in the house. Jesus took their loaf of bread and said the blessing. Maybe He prayed along the lines of this common Jewish prayer, “Blessed are You, My Father, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.” As the Bread of Life, brought forth from the grave, blessed their common meal, their eyes were opened and they recognized Him as their risen Lord.
Do you see Jesus in the common things?
He is there as you make dinner and do laundry. He is there as you weed the flower bed and get the mail. He is there as you cry, and He is there as you laugh so hard that you make that embarrassing snort your kids tease you about. He is there as you form your own ecclesia of praying, seeking, learning, worshipping women to cover your community in prayer.
The disciples didn’t recognize Jesus as they walked on the road together. When they recognized Him as He blessed their meal, then – POOF! – He disappeared from their sight.
Have you ever felt like – POOF! – Jesus disappeared?
Have you ever looked through the lingering smoke of this magic trick and wondered, “Lord, where did you go? I thought you were blessing my marriage, but we’re fighting again. I thought you helped me get this job, but my new boss is a jerk. I thought my son was off drugs, but now he’s in trouble again. Where did You go?”
Why did Jesus leave them, just as their eyes were opened? Why had their eyes been closed in the first place? Matthew Henry said Christ was ordering it so that they might talk more freely with Him. He was showing them that He could teach them, and warm their hearts, by others, who should have His spiritual presence with them. The influence of His word did not depend upon his bodily presence. Jesus was teaching them that they could receive revelation and have their hearts burn within them even when He was not there.
This is when your neighbors need you to help her find Him again. Sometimes He uses your arms to strengthen her. He uses your words to calm her. He uses your home to comfort her.
If you’ve witnessed Jesus in your own life, He commands you to tell your neighbors. He will send His Holy Spirit to help you tell the rest of the Gospel story: a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:47 MSG). Jesus stepped down from heaven to save her. Will you walk across the street to meet her? Will you invite her for a cup of coffee, and tell her about Christ’s Living Water? Will you make her a common meal, and serve the Bread of Life?
When you invite your neighbors into your home, you are inviting Jesus Christ Himself. Who in your remote little corner of the earth is waiting to hear about Jesus? Women respond to hospitality. Having spent each day caring for those around her, she is beside herself when someone cares just for her. She will come when you invite her in. Set the table for her. Open the door to your home (she’s dying to see what it looks like inside, anyway!).
Reach our your hand, and you will touch her heart.
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