Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Different Lesson - A Challenge

Hello my are you?

Did you just mentally answer that question? If so, was it one of the usual suspect answers such as:

"Fine. And you?"
"Good. Thanks."
"I'm okay"?

How would you have answered if you had been honest with me? Would it have been something like:

"Awful. I can't cope with this anymore"
"I'm worn out from...."
"I have issues at work that are getting the best of me"?

Why did you not elect to be honest in the first place?

What? You didn't think I would care? You didn't think I'd want the truth? Couldn't handle the truth?

Why didn't you give me a chance? ... Oh really? Really? You didn't give me a chance because you didn't think I was really listening anyway? Sadly...maybe you are right.

Let's review a 'normal' passing conversation:

Adam: "Hey Eve! How's it going?"

Eve: "Fine. And you?"

Adam: "Fine. Fine. Just hanging out looking for some new duds to wear out here."

Eve: "Okay well I'll talk to you later. Bye."

WHAT? Adam and Eve fine??? If Adam's looking for clothes then they have already been kicked out of the garden and everything is NOT fine! They have lost their chance to live in that beautiful place. They are acutely aware of their sins. They have to start working the ground and, oh yeah, don't let us forget, Eve has just brought the pain of childbirth into the world. Things are not FINE!

So what does this have to do with us? I want to issue you a two-part challenge for this week. First though, let me be honest with you...this ain't gonna be easy for you ... or for me either!!!

Here is the challenge:
Part One:
When you ask anyone the question "How are you?" this week, really listen to their answer and work with them until they respond honestly to you. Get something you can work with. "Fine" is not an acceptable answer. Ask clarifying questions if need be "How's _____?" Fill in the blanks with things like your kids, your wife/husband, your job, that project, etc.

Once you have really listened you should be able to respond with this simple reply: "How may I pray for you?" Or "How can I be a friend to you through this?" I prefer the former but you may need the latter in some situations.

Part Two:
When you are asked that same question "How are you?" respond earnestly. Startle the person by speaking the truth. It will get their attention. Since they may not be believers, you may want to reply based on the work God is doing in your life. For example, if you are having marriage problems, you may respond this way...

Other person: "Hi. How are you?"
You: "Excited that God is working in some situations in my life."
You: "Thanks for asking. I'm honestly a bit tired from things that are going on at home. However, God is faithful and we are moving forward."

If you know the person is a believer, let them know how they can pray for you.

I promise you fearing the word 'fine' will stop people in their tracks. They will see you in a new way. They will see that they you care about people. Taking on this challenge will allow you to:

Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. Galatians 6:1-3 (The Message)

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