Preparing beforehand -- the forgotten step in loving one another (Luminous Friday)
How prepared are you to engage people this hour in the presence and power of Jesus?
The last two Thursday nights I have had the honor of gathering with a group of men and women, reading aloud part of Luminous, and discussing the material with them. Last night we focused on the last half of chapter 5, Being Present with One Another. Our discussion zeroed in on what it means to come into social interactions spiritually prepared rather than just showing up. One group member said, “I’m a teacher, and it is important for me to come to class prepared. I wonder why we don’t pay the same kind of attention to being prepared before we spend time with people in everyday life.”
There are three ways to prepare yourself before entering social situations.
1. Set your will. “Before you interact, you decide that when you get into social situations, you will act only for the flourishing of others… Want nothing but shalom for other people…” (Luminous, 96-97). This is best done by saying a short prayer just before your next social interaction starts. The prayer could be, “Lord Jesus, love these people through me.”
2. Enjoy solitude. Having a quality “getaway” time with God does more than anything else to help you get yourself oriented to God’s ways of looking at things. Solitude is pulling away from social interactions for a time so you can hear from God and his Word. I think of it as time away with God so I can get my head on straight. There’s no substitute for it! Without hearing from God and his Word, I am left thinking my own thoughts, and that’s no way to be a vessel of the presence and power of Jesus.
3. Form habits of love. The more you love people today, the more you will love people tomorrow. You prepare for future social interactions by building a consistent pattern of acting for the benefit of others. Love people habitually, and it will become natural to love people. That’s God’s will for all of us. So for instance, if you’re tense about spending the holidays with your family, prepare now by sacrificing for people consistently in the day-to-day world and building up those healthy relational muscles. Then when some relative says something snarky that threatens to touch off World War III, you will be able to let it go and instead offer an unexpected, miraculous, Jesus-inspired response.
Note: Throughout 2014, my Friday posts will be excerpts and thoughts from Luminous: Living the Presence and Power of Jesus (IVP, 2013). My hope is that these posts launch you into the weekend in a Jesus-centered way.