Start with Connection

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”  – Brené Brown, Author and Researcher

So often, when we approach getting to know our Muslim neighbors, co-workers and class mates, we tend to use our Christianity as armor and view their belief in Islam as a weapon.  This is certainly not helped by what we see on the news in sound bites designed to increase ratings.  So before we even introduce ourselves, we can make the possibility of connection extremely difficult, because we now view ourselves through the lens of “Us vs Them.”

Yet time and time again, when reading in the New Testament, we see that was not Jesus approach. Take for instance, Jesus connection with Zaccheaus.  The rest of the world saw Zaccheaus as a label.  Tax Collector, Crook, Thief.  But Jesus just SAW Zaccheaus.  He valued him enough to want to spend time with him.  He didn’t judge him as unworthy, but saw him as someone with a need.

While everyone else stayed away, Jesus drew close.  And in that process of connection, Zaccheaus saw his need and found a new purpose.

We have not been called to put on our armor as a defense against others.  Instead, Jesus asks us to carry Him with us into connection and relationship with those people He has put in our life.

So take a tip from Jesus:

Host a dinner party! Get to know your neighbors or co-workers for who they are.  Give them the dignity of being seen as an individual, and allow them to see you as an individual.  You have a redemptive story to tell.  You have a hope to share.  All you have to do is embrace the opportunity of connection!

  • And if you’re concerned about what food to make, just remember this menu tip for your dinner party:  Stay away from alcohol and pork. Both of these food items are forbidden in Islam, and your respect for their values will further establish connection. Be especially careful with hot dogs, canned spaghetti sauce, and vanilla extract.  These items often have hidden pork or alchohol ingredients.

We’d love to hear from you!  How are you trying to build connection and Lead with Love to those God has brought into your life?

And to find out you can bring our program to your church or small group, visit our Lead with Love page.

It All Started with a Broken Family and a Promise

Once Upon A Time…

We often make a mistake when reading the account of Abraham and his family in the book of Genesis. When we read the story, we see Abraham and Sarah, Abraham and Hagar, Sarah and Hagar or Isaac and Ishmael. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say, we see Abraham vs. Sarah, Abraham vs. Hagar, Sarah vs. Hagar and Isaac vs. Ishmael.

This story doesn’t feel like a children’s fairy tale with a happy ending. We see battle lines being drawn. We see a broken family. We see wrongs that need to be righted. And, depending on our perspective, those wrongs might look different for each of us. We want to take events that occurred over 4,000 years ago and apply them to current events in order to decide an outcome that aligns with our world view.

However, we make God very small-minded if we think He gave us Genesis as a way to judge who was right and who was wrong.

arrowInstead, everything in Genesis, as well as the remainder of the old testament, is a giant arrow that points straight to this world’s need for the Messiah. God repeatedly told Abraham, and his descendants, that through their seed, all the nations would be blessed. (Genesis 22:18, 26:4 and 28:14) And then, to make sure we don’t miss His point, He follows up with us in Galatians 3.

Galatians 3:16 “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. (NKJV)

This is where the fairy tale gets its happy ending.

This story is not about what things went wrong, and what was broken, but how God made things right. The story is not so much about Abraham and all his descendants, but rather, just one descendant. The only one that ever mattered.

Jesus, The Messiah.

So, before we can move forward in genuine prayer for Abraham’s family tree, let’s first ask God to reveal to us His heart for them, and clearly see where we may have allowed fears, stereotypes, and prejudice to alter our own perceptions. And ask him to show you where those thoughts might have prevented you from loving the world, as God loves the world.

John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (NKJV)

In today’s world climate of fear and anger, let’s remember that God’s desire is to bless all the nations. Can He use us to help accomplish that?

Lead with Love was created to encourage greater understanding of different religious cultures, and encourage you to find ways to make connections and love your neighbor.  If you’d like to talk with us about how to schedule an in depth study with your group, contact us at the link above.