What does it look like to love someone who’s different from you?
There are a lot of missions trips to other countries. And while some are called overseas to share Christ’s love, which is super important, we often forget that we can do the same in our own backyard. We talk about traveling to Haiti, Afghanistan or Africa to show the love of Christ to those in need, but what about the lost and suffering in our country? There are a lot of professing Christians who do amazing work overseas for a week or a month, only to come home and settle back into their own routine, turning a blind eye to the mission field in their own backyard. As Christians, we can change cultures, stop hatred and bring the hope of Christ to those who need to hear it. So why don’t we?
When people feel loved, they become open to the Gospel message. If we are willing to bring sports, education, resources and music to other countries in order to share the truth of the Gospel with them, why can’t we do the same here in America? Why are we not going out of our way to meet the needs of those around us in order to share with them the message of Christ? Too often our preaching doesn’t match our practice. We cannot let our guard down while in the comfort of our own home in our own country. We need to live out our faith among our neighbors or there will be a very inaccurate view of the Gospel, and it will be no one’s fault but our own.
Every day, no matter where you are, you find yourself in a mission field. Whether you are at your job, the doctor’s office, working at Burger King, or in the NFL, treat your life as a long-term missions trip. On a missions trip, you’ll do anything and everything you can to share the truth with the people around you — serving them, playing sports with them, getting to know them, all for the sake of sharing the Gospel with them. The same should be true no matter where you are! Work in such a way that people ask you why you are the way you are. Show up with a smile on your face no matter how you feel. Ask about people’s lives, show them you care. Engage with others to the point where they want to know about you and then tell them about your relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s how you lead people to the Gospel.
Don’t just aim to build relationships with people who are like you. If you’re going overseas, you know you’ll be interacting with people who are different from you. You get to know their culture, preferences and lifestyle and you love them for it. Do the same here! In this country, you will come across all sorts of people who are vastly different from you. Love them, get to know them, show them that you want to have a relationship with them.
If I wanted to know more about tennis (a sport I know very little about), I would get to know someone within that world. By engaging with a tennis pro — learning the in’s and out’s of the game — I would understand a lot more about the sport than if I tried to learn it on my own. The same is true in regards to the Christian faith. We need to establish relationships with others if we want them to know and love the God we serve.
Jesus was the best example of this type of life. He engaged with the woman at the well, the tax collectors, the sinners, the lepers and the prostitutes — all people of different ethnicities, religions, professions, genders and social statuses from Him. These were people who were ostracized. They were different from Him and yet He went out of His way to love them. Jesus got to know who these individuals were, discovering how to meet them where they were at. We can’t expect non-believers to act as Jesus did, but we can help them see themselves the way God views them. To do this we need to love them, not from an emotion, but by a commitment to action.
In the same way, Jesus is an example to us, we need to be an example to the world. Go out of your way to show Christ’s love to someone who is different from you today. You may realize you don’t have to go too far.
— Demario Davis, New York Jets linebacker
Demario Davis is a linebacker with the New York Jets and a regular contributor to The Increase. He provides monthly articles and opinions.