“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.