"Natalie, how do I encourage someone who is very insecure about her body that she is beautiful?"
To be asked such a wisdom-seeking question is always an honor; it throws me off guard at times like "What? You're asking me?" But this girl was pursuing guidance in how to love a friend wholly, honestly, without regard...love her without flattery and shallow words that would point to her physical self as though that is where her value comes from. She wanted to point her friend to Jesus and she asked me for direction.
Later that same day I had the privilege of picking out a study bible with another student; she was purchasing a bible for her friend who was interested in Jesus for the first time.
These small yet valuable things didn't happen over night; I have been in relationship with both of these girls for well over a year, maybe two. These relationships are important to me - discipleship is important to me.
Discipleship was Jesus' commission to us before He left earth:
I have found that discipleship doesn't have to be this fearfully daunting aspect of following Jesus, feeling guilty that you aren't doing it, and avoiding all the things pertaining to it. Sometimes I wonder if we fill our schedules to the brim with other tasks and jobs and commitments because, well, then there is no time to take someone to coffee. It is risky, inviting someone into your life, and is it really as simple as inviting someone in? I mean, how does one just begin to disciple? It's not like picking up a bike and learning to ride it. Or is it?
Discipleship doesn't have to be awkward and stiff. It is impossible for you to have it all together before stepping into the world of discipleship - no one has it all together. I have experienced that discipleship can be found by doing this one thing:
inviting someone to join you in whatever you are doing.
Jesus spent a lot of time with his disciples; they simply lived in community eating together, walking together, fighting together. I see this clearly happening in and through Corvallis Church. It amazes me. Do you menu plan and grocery shop every Sunday? Intentionally invite someone with you - maybe a student who would benefit from learning how to create a menu and grocery list, purchase food, and chat while doing so. Are you living out the most important role on earth of raising babies? Invite someone much like myself who wants babies to come and join you. I want to learn from you, even as you are learning. Are you into sports and fitness? Invite someone to join you - there is nothing quite like sweating
blood to bring your hearts closer. Maybe you're really good at baking or sewing or cleaning or gardening or assembling the church bulletin or going to the laundromat or preaching or writing or drawing or eating or...you name it, you can invite someone into those moments with you.
My friend Sarah decided to start up a weekly night with a few of her close friends, diverse friends I might add. They love margaritas so they are meeting to read the bible, talk about Jesus, and share what's happening in their hearts and lives. Oh and drink a margarita. This fits her and her friends; she isn't adding in some exhausting daunting thing that doesn't make sense for her life...she is inviting people to where she is at and introducing Jesus. Community.
I was invited to a few families' meal times, invited to garden, cook and volunteer in the "church office"...and out of that has flourished a few of the closest relationships I've known possible, my marriage, and even two of my jobs. I have developed a wider picture of who Jesus is. I am known and I know, and I see Jesus more and more. I have a greater understanding of who Jesus is and what He meant when He began building the church.
Those that invited me sacrificed. It takes a denial of self and comfort - you have to be willing to sacrifice alone time and possibly finishing a project as quick as possible. But it's worth it. I am sure we can all throw up a reason why we don't have time - but the point is to make time, see humanity as worthy of your time. Humans are eternal. Invite someone with the intentionality to share your gift, talent, passion...and learn from one another. And in so doing, find Jesus together. Find Him where you are, because believe me, He is there. This mysterious thing builds itself: relationship. After months of spending time with this one person, you have created a relationship of trust and confidence. She may have a sudden crisis - maybe her husband loses his job, she is diagnosed with a disease, or her car breaks down. Who will she call upon? Her trusted friend who took a risk and invited her in. And friends, this is the honor. This is beautiful. You now get to love her and point her to Jesus as her refuge and strength. You have an "in" to pray with her and find His love letter. This is where God is at: in the midst of our relationships when we are loving one another, He is there and others will see Him.
How have you been invited into someone's life?
Imagine if every follower of Jesus took a risk and invited 1-3 people into their life, developing a genuine relationship, a true culture of discipleship. Would the world around us see Jesus then?