I am currently teaching my middle daughter to drive, a daunting task for any parent. One of my goals is to help her master “blind spots,” those tricky areas of the car where the driver’s view is obstructed.
“Blind spots” not only exist in driving, but also in following Christ. I am often blind or negligent in areas of my walk with Christ and He graciously draws my attention to them.
This past Fall, the Lord pointed out two “blind spots” in my outreach and ministry efforts. The first was the area in reaching “the least of these.” While I have always been committed to this idea, I have felt both the conviction and burden to make it a core part of my walk with Christ.
I won’t belabor this by telling you how the Lord got my attention, but let’s just say He used a variety of ways and methods to do so. Two key questions summarize my burdens:
- What am I doing to reach and minister to the homeless, working poor, prisoner, immigrant, refugee in my own community, those who cannot possibly pay me back?
- Second, how am I meeting their physical needs in addition to their spiritual needs?
I started reading the book of Matthew afresh and found that Jesus heavily integrated these two priorities throughout His ministry. It seems like in every town He visited, He would start with the overlooked, forgotten, disregarded, and scorned. And a central part of his ministry was meeting physical needs as a bridge to meeting spiritual needs through sharing the good news.
As the book of Matthew closes with the Great Commission, it dawned on me that my own efforts “to make disciples” should more closely resemble the methods of Christ found in the previous chapters regarding the questions above.
While I have a long way to go in each area, I have had some traction along the way. God has opened some doors for me to get involved with ministries in my city specializing in these areas. Also, my family has rallied around this and has come up with some simple things we can do for the people in need on the street, including: handing out small bags filled with water, granola bars, a Gospel of John, tract, and a listing and map of non-profit services (ranging from shelters, medical clinics, and career counseling). We have also stocked up on winter wear to give to those who are shivering in the cold. Since we have opened our eyes to focus on these priorities, God has given us more opportunities to share and engage with people, hear their stories, and share ours.
Small steps, I know, but steps nonetheless. I look forward to see how the Lord will lead in these areas as a new “facet” of our outreach and ministry efforts. As someone once said, “Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take a step.”