Learning to step out to relate with people concerning the hope of the Gospel means stepping into their world. It also means welcoming people into our world.
Here’s what a good little book sets out:
“Loving people means seeing them as God’s creatures. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22:39). ‘Do good to all people’ (Galatians 6:10). ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn’ (Romans 12:15). Loving people means being involved in the lives of our daily work associates at work, at school, or in the neighborhood. Love involves communicating our concern in word and in deed. We should seek to be friends not just have friends. To be a friend takes thought and time; it means giving ourselves. Whenever evangelistic services are held by your church, the ones most likely to respond to an invitation will be those who have been befriended by the Christian who invites them.
We love people even though they, like us, are sinners. ‘He [Jesus] had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd’ (Mark 6:34). Christ saw people as lost sheep that needed to come back to the Father’s fold. He didn’t remain aloof from people but was known as ‘a friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners’ ’ (Matthew 11:19)—gougers of the poor and notorious adulterers. While Christ didn’t approve of their sins, he accepted these people just as they were.
Often we can’t get past the things in other people that repel us. We tend to forget that while we ourselves were still sinners, Christ died for us. He loved us as we were; we should love people as they are. A world traveler was once asked what was the most beautiful sight he had seen in all his travels. He responded, ‘It was seeing Borden of Yale [a Phi Beta Kappa and a millionaire] with his arm around a bum in the Yale Hope Mission.’ We must be able to put a loving arm around a person in need and show him the Great Physician, who delights in healing the sick with the humanly incurable disease called sin (Luke 5:30-32).” (From the book Confessing Christ, by Calvin K. Cummings, published by Great Commission Publications, see p. 94)