Do you want to bring your loved ones closer to God?
A lot of people ask me, “Bo, please pray that my son (or daughter, or husband, or uncle, or friend, or classmate, or officemate) find God.”
What’s the best way to bring your family and friends to God?
What’s the best way to be spiritually contagious?
I propose three simple but powerful steps, which I’ll share with you for the next three weeks.
Step 1: Friend Them
Step 2: Serve Them
Step 3: Guide Them
At the end of this revolutionary series, I pray that you’ll be very spiritually contagious!
God Still Uses Imperfect People
To Share His Perfect Love
Read what Jesus said…
Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.
I have a very big announcement to make.
Your mission in life isn’t to earn money.
Your mission isn’t to enjoy life.
Your mission isn’t to have a good time.
Your mission isn’t even to be happy.
All those goals aren’t bad. They’re good goals. (Yes, like any father, God wants His children to be happy.)
But they’re not the sacred purpose of why you were born.
Your mission, my friend, is to make disciples.
I can hear you now. “Bo, you’re crazy! I’m not a priest. I’m not a nun. I’m not a preacher like you. I’m an ordinary Catholic.”
Ah, there lies your mistake.
There’s no such thing as an ordinary Catholic.
Every Catholic has a mission, and that mission is to make disciples. Your mission is to bring others closer to God.
Jesus is your model.
Jesus made disciples in a very special way…
Step 1: Friend Them
Here’s my big message for you today: The most powerful way of bringing someone closer to God is through friendship.
Look at how Jesus did it…
Later on Jesus was having a meal in Levi’s house. A large number of tax collectors and other outcasts were following Jesus, and many of them joined him and his disciples at the table. Some teachers of the Law, who were Pharisees, saw that Jesus was eating with these outcasts and tax collectors, so they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such people?” Jesus heard them and answered, “People who are well do not need a doctor, but only those who are sick. I have not come to call respectable people, but outcasts.”
Are You A Friend Of Sinners?
I remember Anna telling me this story.
Anna said that the moment she joined Light of Jesus (my community), she stopped having lunch with her regular lunch-mates, because they weren’t spiritually renewed. She ate instead with another officemate who was a member of Couples for Christ.
Anna said she lost interest in her usual lunch-mates because their discussion was worldly. But with her new spiritual friend, they only talked about God. They spoke the same language. They quoted the same verses. They shared the same stories.
But after one year, she felt like God hit her on the head. She heard God tell her, “Go back to your former friends. Love them.”
Anna realized she made a mistake. So she went with her former lunch-mates again. And they told her, “We felt hurt that you suddenly left us. That we were not holy enough for you.” She asked for forgiveness. And they welcomed her back.
Today, Anna is able to bring God’s Love to her friends. And some of them are now attending the Feast, our weekly gathering.
Annoyance or Acceptance?
Let me tell you a sad fact: According to surveys, the longer a person attends church, the more he isolates himself from the unchurched.
Christians like Anna stop attending civic organization. She stops hanging out with her officemates. She stops joining the homeowners meetings. She stops attending PTA meetings.
Instead, she meets only people from her church.
Because she gets annoyed at non-Christian behavior.
o “I don’t like their green jokes.”
o “I can’t stand their cursing.”
o “They believe in New Age stuff.”
o “My old friends smoke. I can’t stand secondhand smoke.” (Daniel and his three friends were thrown in a burning furnace because of their faith, and we’re afraid of secondhand smoke?)
Suddenly, the proof of spiritual growth is “annoyance”. How annoyed are you at non-Christian behavior? The more annoyed you are, the more spiritual you must be.
But this is nuts.
Jesus ate with prostitutes, tax-collectors, and drunkards. You can be sure there was a lot more than cursing and green jokes when they gathered. But Jesus made them his friends. That’s why religious people called him a “friend of sinners” (Luke 7:34).
He ate in the house of Zacheus, the chief tax collector.
He allowed a prostitute to wash and anoint his feet.
The proof that you’re spiritually growing isn’t annoyance but acceptance. Here’s the real proof that you’re spiritually growing: If you accept sinners. If you’re non-judgmental to sinners. If you’re friends of sinners.
Just like Jesus.
My Wonderful Friends Today
Today, I enjoy friends who are unchurched.
Today, I regularly meet with people who would never enter a Church. I have a woman friend who’s never been to Sunday Mass for decades. Two of my friends are lesbians. One friend is in an adulterous relationship. And then there’s a New Ager who’s into the occult.
I love them. And I enjoy being with them.
I don’t condemn them. Because I know that Jesus doesn’t condemn them.
Guess what: Slowly, because of our friendship, they’re coming closer to God.
Oh, it’s exciting to see that happen!
Warning: Obviously, there are situations when you need to be careful. It may not be wise for a recovering alcoholic to spend time with his drinking buddies while they’re drinking. Or a recovering sex addict spending time with prostitutes. Be prudent.
What’s Your Greatest Evangelistic Weapon?
And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.
How will people know that you’re a disciple?
Not by how long you pray.
Not by how many Bible verses you know.
Not by how many scapulars hang around your neck.
Not by how many rosaries hang in your rear-view mirror.
People will know you’re a disciple if you love like Jesus.
And surprise, surprise! This same love will be your most important tool in winning someone to Jesus. I repeat: Your greatest way of bringing someone closer to God is your friendship.
Eleven Years Later
When I was in college, I had a friend who I met for lunch almost everyday for two years. Let’s call him Bill.
During those lunches, I remember trying to share my faith with him.
But no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t seem to convince Bill to follow Jesus. He said he had a lot of doubts. He had many other problems and he wasn’t ready to commit. But even if we didn’t agree about spiritual things, we enjoyed our friendship a lot.
We couldn’t talk about spiritual things (because we disagreed about them), but we talked about everything else: sports, girls, cars, girls, music, and… did I mention girls? (After all, we were college guys!)
I dropped out of college and we lost touch.
And I never heard of Bill again.
Eleven years later, I was walking in a mall and guess who I saw—Bill! I asked him how he was, and he gave me the shock of his life. He said he was a Christian missionary!
I couldn’t believe my ears.
He then said five words that made my heart leap for joy. “Thanks for showing me Jesus.”
For those 2 years that I was having lunch with the guy, it seemed like nothing was happening.
But it was true.
What showed him Jesus?
Who Introduced Me To God?
When I was 12 years old, my father told me, “Bo, let’s go to the prayer meeting.”
I walked in, liked it, and never left. As a 12-year-old kid, I fell in love with God, and my life has never been the same.
People ask me, “One invitation from your parents and you said Yes?”
Actually, I didn’t get one invitation. All throughout my life, Dad was already inviting me—in a very silent way—to experience God’s Love.
How? By the power of relationship.
When I was a small boy, I remember that Dad treated me special. Everytime he came home from work, he’d look for me.
Dad would invite me to jog with him.
He wasn’t a great jogger. We jogged around the car parked in our garage.
After the jog, he’d sit down and make me sit on his lap. He’ll read to me 4 comic strips in the paper: Tarzan, Blondie, Beetle Bailey, and Peanuts.
That happened every single night.
I remember how during the day, I’d look forward to evenings. Evenings were special to me. Because Dad came home and spent that precious one hour with me.
That wasn’t all.
Every Saturday, my father would invite me out for a date. He’d bring me out for pizza. Or watch a movie. Or go to a toy store.
By relating to me in a loving way, Dad gave me a glimpse of who God is. If my father thought I was special, then perhaps my Father in Heaven thought I was special too. If my father liked spending time with me, then perhaps my Father in Heaven liked spending time with me too.
Note: Dad didn’t talk much about God. He wasn’t much of a talker. His favorite word was “Hmmph.” I’d greet him, “Hi Dad!” and he’s grunt, “Hmmph.”
But by the loving relationship he had with me, I was slowly being “discipled”.
Be Another Jesus In The World
You can bring your family and friends closer to God.
How do I know? Because God gave you a mission: To make disciples.
You don’t have to be a preacher, a writer, a singer.
All you need to do is be a loving friend. By your friendship, they will experience God’s Love.
May your dreams come true,