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How to love people you don’t like

In the heart of the Christian faith lies a command that is as challenging as it is transformative: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44). This call to radical love is not merely a suggestion but a central tenet of living out the Gospel.

Understanding the command to love our enemies

As followers of Christ, we are invited to embody His love in ways that transcend natural inclinations and societal norms. Jesus’ teaching on loving enemies is rooted in His own example. During His ministry, Jesus consistently demonstrated love and compassion to those who opposed Him. From forgiving those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34) to reaching out to sinners and tax collectors, Jesus showcased a love that knew no bounds.

The command to love our enemies is profoundly counter-cultural. It challenges us to look beyond our grievances and personal hurts to see others through the eyes of Christ. This love is not about condoning harmful behaviour but about choosing a posture of grace and forgiveness. It reflects the unconditional love of God, who “causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).

Why love our enemies?

If we look under the instructions, we can see all the ways loving our enemies helps us walk like Jesus, transforms us and in turn the world around us. This is why we should love our enemies.

  1. Reflecting God’s Character: Loving our enemies mirrors the heart of God. It demonstrates that His love is not limited by human standards but is freely given to all, regardless of their actions. By loving those who persecute us, we reflect the nature of a God who loves unconditionally.
  2. Transforming Hearts: Love has the power to transform. When we respond to hatred with love, we break the cycle of animosity. Our loving actions can soften hardened hearts, opening the door for reconciliation and healing.
  3. Personal Healing: Harboring hatred and resentment only harms us. It keeps us chained to our pain and prevents us from experiencing the fullness of life that God intends for us. Loving our enemies frees us from this bondage, allowing us to live in peace and joy.
  4. Witness to the World: In a world often marked by division and strife, loving our enemies serves as a powerful testimony to the transformative power of Christ. It sets us apart as His followers and draws others to the hope and peace found in Him.

How to love your enemies

Here are some practical ways we can walk like Jesus and love people we don’t like.

  • Pray for Them: Begin with prayer. Ask God to bless those who have wronged you and to work in their lives. Prayer shifts our focus from our hurt to God’s ability to bring about change.
  • Forgive Them: Forgiveness is a choice and a process. It may not happen overnight, but it starts with a decision to let go of bitterness. Remember, forgiveness does not excuse the wrong but releases its hold on you.
  • Seek Understanding: Try to see things from the perspective of your enemy. Understanding their story and struggles can foster empathy and compassion.
  • Act with Kindness: Look for practical ways to show kindness. This could be through a kind word, a helpful act, or simply a smile. Small gestures of kindness can break down barriers and build bridges.
  • Set Healthy Boundaries: Loving your enemy does not mean allowing abuse or harm. It’s important to set boundaries that protect your well-being while still choosing to love from a distance if necessary.

Loving our enemies and those who persecute us is a radical call, but it is one that lies at the heart of the Gospel. It is through this selfless love that we truly embody the message of Christ.

As we strive to love as He loved, we become instruments of His peace, reflecting His light in a world in desperate need of His grace and love. Let us take up this mantle with courage and faith, trusting that in loving our enemies, we draw closer to the heart of God and transform the world around us.

How to ‘be still and know’ that he is God.

In today’s fast-paced world, the demands on professionals and students are immense. With constant deadlines, relentless schedules, and the ever-present pressure to succeed, finding a moment of peace can seem impossible. Amidst this chaos, Psalm 46:10 offers a profound message of hope and tranquillity: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Psalm 46:10 is a divine invitation to pause and recognize the sovereignty of God. This verse, nestled in a psalm that celebrates God’s power and protection, reminds us that in the midst of turmoil and uncertainty, God remains unshaken and omnipotent. “Be still” isn’t merely about physical stillness but calls for deeper spiritual rest, a trust that transcends our understanding.

Embracing stillness in a hectic life

For busy professionals and students, the concept of being still can feel counterintuitive. How can one possibly stop when there’s so much to do? Yet, it is precisely in these moments of overwhelming busyness that stillness becomes most crucial. I remember studying for my Masters at Manchester University. I thought I could approach this degree with the same somewhat cavalier attitude I approached my undergraduate with. Very quickly I realised the workload was not the same. Before I knew it, I was falling behind and my to-do list was rapidly growing. I was falling behind and it felt like I never made it to the end of my to-do list. I was starting to burn out and I would always feel guilty because there was still work to do.

Constant activity without rest leads to burnout. Psalm 46:10 encourages us to take a step back, breathe, and centre ourselves in God’s presence. This act of pausing and reflecting on God’s power can significantly reduce stress and anxiety. By acknowledging that God is in control, we can release our burdens and find peace. When we rest and we are still, we allow our thoughts to settle and the fear and anxiety to dissipate and we rest in the knowledge that God is in full control.

Real productivity

Ironically, taking time to be still can enhance productivity. When we continuously push ourselves without breaks, our efficiency decreases. By incorporating moments of stillness and prayer into our daily routine, we refresh our minds and spirits. This spiritual rejuvenation leads to clearer thinking and better decision-making, ultimately making us more effective in our tasks.

In the rush of daily life, our spiritual well-being often takes a backseat. Psalm 46:10 serves as a reminder to reconnect with our Creator. Through prayer, meditation, and reflection, we can deepen our relationship with God. This connection provides a solid foundation, helping us navigate life’s challenges with divine guidance and strength.

Practical Ways to Live Out Psalm 46:10

Implementing the principles of Psalm 46:10 requires intentionality. Here are some practical steps for busy professionals and students to incorporate stillness into their lives:

1. Start the Day with Prayer and Meditation

Begin your day by setting aside a few minutes for prayer and meditation. This practice sets a positive tone for the day, grounding you in God’s presence and peace.

2. Schedule Breaks for Reflection

Throughout the day, schedule short breaks to pause and reflect. Use these moments to breathe deeply, pray, and remind yourself of God’s sovereignty.

3. Create a Peaceful Environment

Designate a quiet space for reflection and prayer. Whether it’s a corner of your room or a spot in a nearby park, having a dedicated place can help cultivate stillness.

4. Engage in Mindful Activities

Incorporate activities that promote mindfulness, such as journaling, reading Scripture, or walking in nature. These practices can help you stay present and attuned to God’s presence.

5. End the Day with Gratitude

Conclude your day by reflecting on God’s blessings. Expressing gratitude helps shift your focus from the day’s stresses to the positive aspects of your life, reinforcing your trust in God’s provision.

Psalm 46:10 offers a powerful reminder of the importance of stillness and trust in God, especially for those leading busy lives. Embracing this verse can transform our approach to daily challenges, providing peace, clarity, and a deeper connection with God. By making time to “be still and know” that He is God, we invite His presence into our lives, finding solace and strength in His unchanging nature.

Do you know you are blind?

When Jesus heals a blind man in John 9, it calls into question our spiritual blindness and how we respond to novel teaching.

If you have read the bible, even a little bit then you will know that one of God’s most frequent promises through his prophets, major and minor is that he will open the eyes of the blind. When Jesus arrives on the scene in the New Testament he does indeed perform many miracles. However, when he heals the blind man in John 9, and the Pharisees gather around him, it prompts a question, who was really blind and who needed sight?

Studying the bible in my early 20s, anytime I saw Jesus perform a miracle, I would put myself with the group of those that celebrated or even the person elated that they had been healed. I wouldn’t put myself in the group of perplexed onlookers on even worse, the Pharisees that didn’t believe and actively fought against his miracle. It’s worth asking who you would have been in John 9:24-30.

“who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭146‬:‭7‬-‭9‬ ‭ESV — God has always made himself known as he who opens the eyes of the blind.

Jesus Heals The Man

Earlier in chapter 9, Jesus heals a man who has been blind from birth. This gets them both in trouble with the local teachers and in verses 24-30, the healed man is being interrogated. As you read this passage, try to picture this exchange in your mind’s eye and pay close attention to the tone of their words.

“So for the second time, they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know is that though I was blind, now I see.” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes.”

‭‭John‬ ‭9‬:‭24‬-‭25‬, ‭27‬-‭30‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Why are the teachers so entrenched in their thinking? Why are they blind to what God has done? Perhaps it was because, as teachers, they held a lot of power. Is it possible that a new rabbi, who not only speaks with authority but also can back up His teaching with extraordinary miracles, threatens their power base? It is said that those who control the narrative control the people, and in this passage, we see the teachers desperately trying to control the narrative. They are afraid and find it hard to afford this new rabbi.

It’s important to ask ourselves who we are in this story. Are we too sometimes threatened by those who teach something different from what we currently believe or even teach? Do we feel out of joint when the narratives, the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, who God is, and what the world is like, get challenged?

Often we are closed off to new perspectives because of fear of losing power, place and prestige. This is where the Pharisees found themselves. It’s a strange turnaround really. The blind man was given his sight, and the seeing people were blind to what God was doing.

“And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭42‬:‭16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It’s easy to scoff at the blind Pharisees who were unwilling to see Jesus and accept him. However, sometimes we are the Pharisees. We don’t lean on God and aren’t always ready to accept new teachings and challenges.

God, we admit that we are not good at seeing or learning. We don’t want to be blind to where You are at work in our lives. Help us to ask the right questions. Lead us out of outdated paradigms. Loosen our grip on our need to be right.

Help us to learn from You.

The fight to see God as Beautiful 

Throughout the scriptures, we are called to worship the Lord. But to worship the Lord rightly we have to know Him. More than that, we have to see Him rightly.

Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his[a] holiness;
    tremble before him, all the earth.

Psalm 96:7-9

We live in an age where authority is being fought against. There are many horror stories of the abuse of authority in various spheres – including the church. As a result, a reasonable question arises; can any authority be trusted? Yet, in the scriptures, it couldn’t be more clear that we ought to submit to the authority of God. Even more so that we are explicitly commanded to worship God. In the book of Exodus, the Israelites have just been liberated from slavery through the mighty hand of God yet shortly after their liberation they seem to forget who redeemed them. They consistently complain against the One who saved them, even wishing to return to slavery (Exodus 16:3). God, however, was committed to His people and demonstrated that by drawing up a covenant between Him and the Israelites. As this covenant was being created, the Israelites became impatient and created another god for themselves attributing praise to this creation of their hands that belonged alone to God (Exodus 32). The Israelites forgot the reason for their liberation – to worship God (Exodus 7:16, 8:1). 

The Beauty of God as the foundation of Worship 

Like the Israelites, we often are prone to forgetting about the God who saved us. When we have prayed regarding a situation or person, if God doesn’t answer us as quickly as we would like; we are swift to form a God who will. Why do we do this? Because we fail to see God as beautiful. Now, I refer to beauty not in the sense of attraction but one of delight. The problem of the Israelites is the problem of all of mankind. Sin causes us to see God differently from how we ought to see Him. Satan seeks to tempt us to believe the lie that God isn’t as good as He is. That God has some nefarious motive in loving us and that there is some catch to the eternal joy that God promises us in Christ. We are commanded to delight in the Lord (Psalm 37:4), follow the Lord (Deuteronomy 30:16), and obey the Lord (1 John 5:3) and these commands are impossible. We cannot follow these commands apart from Christ. If our problem is sin, then our solution is Christ. Sin corrupts our members so we are unable to enjoy God in all His fullness. Thanks be God for the promise of the gospel. All who trust in Jesus will be saved from their sins and given new and eternal life. The new covenant we enter in Christ is better than the old. We are given a new mind and affection to see God as He is. Now these commands we are called to obey are no longer burdens for the soul, but delights for our heart (1 John 5:3-4). 

Satan, sin and this world are waging war against us and want us to believe that God isn’t as good as He declares He is. Do not believe their lies. Each day we are being transformed from glory to the next (2 Corinthians 3:18) and one day we will see Jesus exactly how He is (1 John 3:2). And together, with all the saints, we will worship God in the beauty of His holiness (Psalm 96:9).

Reading vs Studying the bible: What is the difference?

Unlocking Deeper Understanding: What it Means to Study the Word

“Read your bible!” — You may be very familiar with hearing that phrase from your Pastor, Bible study leader or parent. As Christians seeking to grow in our faith, we are encouraged to read the bible and through the help of the Holy Spirit we grow in our knowledge of God.

Bible reading is useful for breadth of knowledge but if we want more depth, studying the context is necessary. To illustrate, consider this agricultural analogy: Are you a ‘raker’ or a ‘digger’ of biblical scripture? As readers of the bible, of course, you know agricultural-related references are a must! I have been asking myself similar questions, as I have felt more challenged and convicted to delve deeper into the Word of God

What Does it Mean to ‘Study’ the Bible?

Exegesis: careful analytical study of the biblical passages

Exegesis involves discovering the original intended meaning of scripture considering its historical and literary context. This helps us understand what the text meant to its original audience, forming an objective foundation before applying it to our own lives. In doing this, we cannot be skewed by our own bias or interpretation. By starting with exegesis, we seek God’s intended message for us rather than what might simply sound pleasing to us.

Questions to consider when studying the bible:

  • When and where was it written?
  • How did God interact with people at that time?
  • What type of book is it?
  • Who wrote it?
  • Who was meant to read it?

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable

2 Timothy 3:16

Hermeneutics: the study of biblical interpretation

Hermeneutics involves applying scripture to the present, allowing for some subjectivity. For each of us, the process of arriving at the meaning of Scripture is influenced by who we are as individuals but also by our cultural, socioeconomic and historical contexts. These can all affect the interpretive process.

Some learning strategies for the bible

  • Read through the Bible in different translations
  • Use an application bible which has a commentary section
  • Look into the root meaning of biblical words
  • Have a separate journal to jot down new revelations
  • Bible verse mapping
  • Study the bible according to biblical characters or topics

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, as you study more, you will discover a strategy that is effective for you.

When I started this journey of studying my bible more, I felt like I was ‘behind’ or ‘lacking in some way’ but I was reminded that our faith is a beautiful lifetime journey, and will be strengthened as we continue to grow in our relationship with God. But ultimately the end goal is to know God, we can do all this extended research and reading and still miss Him in the process also due to lack of sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.” Ephesians 1:17 NIV. The goal is to know God better through His Word. Let’s move from being ‘rakers’ to ‘diggers’ of Scripture, uncovering the profound truths God has for us.

Some useful resources that have helped me

Dont just pay lip service to Jesus

In the book of Luke Jesus gives the parable of the two builders. The parable warns us about the dangers of paying lip service to Jesus and his teachings but not obeying.

Luke Chapter 6 verses 46-49

The Wise and Foolish Builders
46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well-built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

Everyone is building some kind of house

Jesus makes it clear that upon hearing Jesus, we are all in two camps. There is no neutral ground. You are either building a solid house that will stand or you are building a house that will eventually collapse. In other words, we are all pouring our treasure into some sort of alabaster box. We live in an age of cognitive dissonance where people say one thing and practice another. Jesus speaks directly to this culture and says, if you love me, you will keep my commands. If you profess to follow me, you won’t just say the right things, you will do the right things.

Storms are coming

Another enlightening point Jesus makes is about the certainty of storms. In these end times, there is a certain prosperity gospel that is pervasive in many circles. False teachers make the case that believing in Jesus will lead to a life with no storms, strife or hardship. Jesus in this parable says ‘when’ a flood came putting in the parable the inevitability of storms. In a sense, he is saying expect storms. The storms of life will rage, however, those who have built on solid rock will stand.

Look at verse 48

‘When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built’

When we obey Jesus and put his words into action, it’s akin to building a rain shelter before it starts to rain. We are protecting a future version of ourselves from being rocked by the storms of life that will surely come.

Authentic faith lasts

I love the sheer confidence with which Jesus speaks in this parable. He declares boldly that he is the firm foundation and a house built on him will stand. This security and assuredness should comfort us and give us hope. Everything else we build on will cave on itself. On the other hand, Jesus declares that he is secure and his word can be trusted. Jesus says in this passage that we can bank and trust him. He is saying he can handle the weight of our trust and expectations.

Christianity is a contact sport. In our information age, it’s easy to see it as following Jesus as a life philosophy or a bunch of claims we agree to. Jesus in this passage says it is more than that. It is a pattern of living, a pathology of behaviour that demands something from us.

Everything else we build our life on will disappoint us. Everything else will crumble under the weight of the expectations we put on it. Christianity is a contact sport, you have to connect with his word. You cannot just mentally accept it. You have to put your weight on it. If you do this authentically, your life will be secure and whatever life throws, you will stand.

What is true worship and should I do it?

When Jesus said we should worship him in spirit and truth, what did he mean and how do we as Christians lay claim to this?

In the Gospel of John, chapter 4, verses 21-24, we find a profound and transformative conversation between Jesus and a Samaritan woman at the well. This passage unveils essential truths about worship, urging believers to transcend physical and cultural boundaries in pursuit of a deeper, more authentic connection with God. Let’s delve into the rich teachings encapsulated in John 4:21-24.

To fully grasp the significance of these verses, it’s crucial to understand the context. Jesus, tired and thirsty from his journey, engages in a conversation with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. This encounter alone breaks cultural norms, as Samaritans and Jews traditionally avoided interactions. However, Jesus goes beyond societal barriers, revealing a timeless truth about worship that transcends cultural, religious, and physical distinctions.

Worship beyond temples

In verse 21, Jesus declares, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.” Here, Jesus challenges the notion that worship is confined to a specific physical location or religious institution. He shifts the focus from the external, emphasizing that genuine worship is not about the place but the heart. He makes it clear to her that worship is not only about singing in a church but a disposition we can all maintain

In verse 23, Jesus proclaims, “But the hour is coming, and is now here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” This statement is revolutionary. Jesus introduces the concept of worshipping in spirit, emphasizing the internal, spiritual aspect of worship. True worship transcends rituals, traditions, and external forms; it emanates from a sincere connection with God at the core of one’s being.

The phrase “in spirit” implies a deep, personal engagement with the divine. It encourages believers to cultivate an authentic, heartfelt relationship with God, recognizing that true worship involves the surrender of the spirit to the Father. This spiritual connection allows for a genuine expression of love, gratitude, and devotion, unbound by external constraints.

Worship in truth

Jesus pairs worship in spirit with worship in truth. In verse 24, he says, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” Truth in worship involves sincerity, honesty, and a genuine acknowledgement of who God is. It rejects hypocrisy and external displays of religiosity in favour of an authentic, transparent relationship with the Creator.

Worshiping in truth requires aligning our lives with the revealed truths of God’s Word. It involves living a life that reflects the character and teachings of Christ. This sincerity in worship extends beyond mere rituals and rituals, inviting believers to embrace a holistic approach to their faith.

How can we apply this?

The message of John 4:21-24 is as relevant today as it was when Jesus spoke these words. In a world characterized by division, religious differences, and cultural barriers, believers are called to rise above external distinctions and engage in worship that is deeply rooted in the spirit and truth.

Christians are urged to transcend denominational boundaries and focus on the essential elements of worship: a sincere, heart-driven connection with God and a commitment to living out the truths found in Scripture. This passage challenges us to evaluate our worship practices, ensuring that they are not mere routines but authentic expressions of love and devotion.

John 4:21-24 challenges believers to redefine their understanding of worship. It invites us to break free from the constraints of physical locations and cultural norms, emphasizing that true worship is an internal, spiritual, and truthful connection with God. As we embrace this transformative perspective, we discover a worship that transcends boundaries and fosters a genuine, life-transforming relationship with our Heavenly Father. May we be true worshipers who worship in spirit and truth, bringing glory to God in every aspect of our lives.

Why does God seem bossy?

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever.

In this passage, there is a radically counter-cultural message presented. Jesus says obedience is the most vivid expression of love. On the other hand, culture says love is primarily to be seen as a feeling and that obedience is cold. How are we to think about this passage of scripture?

Two sides of the same coin

In John 14:15, Jesus presents love and obedience as inextricably linked. Love and obedience are presented as two sides of the same coin. God is saying to love him is to obey him. He is telling the people, don’t just honour me with your lips, while your heart is far away from me. In other words, the authenticity of our love is demonstrated by our obedience to God.

But isn’t freedom about the absence of restriction?

Many might look at this portion of scripture and recoil at what is being described. We live in a culture that celebrates freedom and this message from Jesus goes against the culture norm. It’s important to consider that the way the world looks at freedom may be wrong. The idea that freedom is about being able to do whatever you please is essentially a childish and immature way to look at issues.

If your house is burgled, you will would care about about rules, regulations and the law. We all recognise the importance of rules and regulations when we consider people who would happily violate them and hurt us in the process. We must recognise the importance of limiting some people’s absolute freedom to protect others. A world where we all have absolute freedom with no boundaries whatsoever quickly descends into anarchy.

Also, consider someone addicted to alcohol; who can’t stop themselves from picking up another bottle. Would you say they are free or are they really in bondage and a slave to their desires?

This shows you that freedom cannot simply be the ability for us to do whatever we want to do. Its more complicated and nuanced.

Why does God tell us what to do?

When God says don’t do something, he says it because he knows what’s best for us. When he speaks forcefully to us, he does it because his love for us is intense and he desperately wants our lives to be full of joy.

Let’s consider lying

In the bible, God is very serious and unequivocal about lying. He says ‘‘You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another (Leviticus 19:11).

If you lie, it will first corrode your reality. A life where you don’t take the truth seriously will eventually leave you in a constant state of cognitive dissonance and confusion. If everyone keeps on lying, it will eventually corrode society, leading to a culture, where we don’t trust each other, especially does in authority or positions of power. In turn, we start to undermine institutions and believe only our imaginations over the truth. Does any of this sound familiar?

Because God sees this end right from the start, he tells us forcefully, ‘do not lie’. It’s not him being bossy, instead, it’s his love and his desire to protect us.

The worst thing God could do is say ‘Do what you want’. Imagine if God left you to your own devices and didn’t instruct you in any way. Imagine who you would become without his instructions and his law. He is projecting from that person and giving you the guardrails for a life of flourishing and peace.

God sees everything you’re going through

I remember, years ago, I visited one of my younger brothers who is a musician. He was headlining a show and after I made my way through security, I found my seats and prepared for the show to begin. When it all started, he was electric; thousands of people seemed to be enjoying themselves and he was having the time of his life. Before his last song, he was thanking some people who had made the night possible. Everyone nodded politely as we went through names and told us stories.

He then called out my name, I was sure this was a mistake so I looked around for another Micheal. Soon he was pointing and I an introvert, crippled by the spotlight stood up and waved. I sat down quickly however the memory lingered. He singled me out in a large crowd and he saw me.

It’s a small example to show us how God sees in what may seem like a crowd of many people. What’s even more impressive is that God, amongst billions of his creation sees us and calls us by name. He knows us, notices us and no matter how insignificant we think we are, God calls us out in the middle of a crowd.

Hagar’s Revelation: Understanding How God Sees and Knows Us

In Genesis 16:13, we find a profound moment in the life of Hagar, the Egyptian maidservant of Sarai. Hagar, pregnant with Abram’s child and mistreated by Sarai, found herself in the wilderness, contemplating her uncertain future. In the midst of her despair, Hagar encountered the divine revelation that speaks volumes about how God sees and understands each one of us.

The verse states, “She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.'” These words echo the comforting truth that God is not a distant, indifferent deity; rather, He is intimately involved in our lives, fully aware of our struggles, joys, and everything in between.

Firstly, the acknowledgement that “You are the God who sees me” is a powerful affirmation of God’s omniscience. Unlike human relationships that may falter due to misunderstandings or lack of communication, God perceives every facet of our being. He sees not only our outward actions but also the depths of our hearts. In times of loneliness or despair, we can find solace in the fact that God’s gaze is unwavering, His understanding limitless.

Hagar’s declaration reveals a divine comprehension that goes beyond mere observation. God doesn’t just see us; He understands us. He comprehends the complexities of our emotions, the intricacies of our thoughts, and the depths of our struggles. When life seems overwhelming, and we feel misunderstood by the world, we can take refuge in the understanding gaze of our Creator.

In our human experiences, there are moments when we feel invisible, as if no one truly understands the challenges we face. Yet, Hagar’s encounter with God serves as a reminder that we are never alone in our journey. God not only sees us in our moments of joy but also in our moments of pain and desperation. He comprehends the depths of our suffering and extends His compassionate understanding.

The verse concludes with Hagar saying, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” This reciprocal relationship is a beautiful depiction of the intimacy God desires with each of His children. Just as God sees and understands us, we are invited to see Him – to recognize His presence in our lives. This mutual acknowledgement fosters a deep, personal connection that transcends the superficiality of mere observation.

As Christians, we can draw strength and encouragement from Hagar’s revelation. In the highs and lows of life, God sees us, and His understanding surpasses our human comprehension. Let us embrace the assurance that we serve a God who is not distant or indifferent but intimately involved in our lives. May we, like Hagar, declare with gratitude, “You are the God who sees me.”

How do I share the gospel with strangers?

As Christians, we are called to be ambassadors of the Gospel, sharing the transformative message of God’s love and redemption with those around us. In this information age, with cancel culture all around us, the task of sharing the Gospel can seem daunting, but with genuine love, humility, and a reliance on the Holy Spirit, we can be effective witnesses for Christ.

Here are practical tips on how to effectively share the Gospel with people.

Cultivate authentic relationships

The foundation of effective evangelism is genuine relationships. Jesus emphasized the importance of love and unity among His followers in John 13:35 (ESV): “By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Building authentic relationships opens the door for honest conversations about faith.

Invest time in getting to know people, listening to their stories, and demonstrating Christ’s love through your actions. When others see the authenticity of your faith in your daily life, they are more likely to be receptive to the Gospel message you share.

Understand and respect others’ perspectives

There is a very pervasive culture on social media of one person ‘owning’ another person in viral videos built around debates. The Bible does not encourage this approach, instead, it encourages us to approach conversations with humility and a genuine desire to understand others. 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) encourages believers to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Its key to recognise that second clause. It’s not just advice, but it’s an instruction, do it with gentleness and respect. This means how we share the message is just as important as the message we are sharing.

Respectful dialogue involves active listening and acknowledging the perspectives of others. Avoid being confrontational or judgmental. Instead, create an atmosphere where people feel heard and valued. By respecting their beliefs, you lay the groundwork for a more open and receptive conversation about the Gospel.

Share your personal testimony

Your personal testimony is a powerful tool in sharing the Gospel. Revelation 12:11 (ESV) declares, “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” Your story of how Christ has transformed your life can resonate with others who may be facing similar struggles or searching for meaning.

When sharing your testimony, focus on the impact of your relationship with Jesus. Highlight the changes in your life, the hope you’ve found, and the joy that comes from following Christ. Personal stories connect on a human level and can serve as a compelling testament to the life-changing power of the Gospel.

This can help to bring the truth of God’s word to life for people that need a real-life example of what you are saying,

Use scripture and the power of God’s word

The Bible is a powerful and transformative tool in sharing the Gospel. Hebrews 4:12 (NIV) describes the Word of God as “alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

When engaging in conversations about faith, share relevant passages of Scripture that communicate the central message of the Gospel. The Word of God has the ability to speak directly to the hearts of individuals, convicting and transforming lives. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead you to the right verses for each unique conversation.

Pray for divine appointments and opportunities

Colossians 4:2-6 (NIV) encourages believers to “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ.”

Effective evangelism is not solely reliant on our abilities but on the leading and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Regularly pray for divine appointments and opportunities to share the Gospel. Be watchful for moments when God opens doors for meaningful conversations, and trust in His timing and guidance.