Finding Your 202ONE: Build a Relationship

Troy SIngleton

We are starting a new series on finding your one. For a lot of us, this is the traveling season when we are going to the beach, going to see family, or going to see friends. And a lot of the times when we are traveling, we try to take bypasses. These are roads that keep us from driving through the center of the city, either because of traffic or for some other reason, so we can get around it. 


Even though it’s longer, it is at times a lot better to do the bypasses than it is to drive directly through a particular area. And just like we try to use bypasses to get around cities and towns that we really don’t want to drive directly through, we do the same thing with people. We try to bypass people that we don’t want to communicate with, bypass people we don’t want to talk to. And when you think about being a person of Christ and talk about finding your one, these are not good things to do.


I am not here to give you a blueprint that is going to guarantee that you connect with everyone you meet in Christ. I look at it this way: As Jesus couldn’t reach everyone, I’m not going to reach everyone either. But as many people as I come in contact with, the Spirit is going to lead us, each and every one of us, to the person that God would have for us to impact. This is just a fact. It is a part of the process. 


And within that process is a long and tiresome process to reach someone who is lost. Each and every one of us has family and friends that we want to reach for Christ, whom we want to see again in heaven. And I am no different. 


I have a brother I’ve been trying to reach for years, and he was doing his thing to the point that he and I couldn’t even ride in the same car together when I would go home to visit. But over time, our relationship got better. He stopped doing some things that caused that friction, and now he’s more inclined toward Christ. He’s still not where he needs to be, but he’s not where he used to be. And this is a prayer that I’ve been praying for 20 plus years, for him to come around. And he’s getting better. 


For a lot of us, that journey is definitely a difficult one. At times the person will take two steps forward, only to take three steps back. But you still have to be persistent and continue to be a part of that person’s life. I find it is true that many people will appreciate you coming to them, as opposed to you telling them come to church.


That’s why I love 2 Cities Church. We are not that church that says, “Well, you come to church and then we’ll talk about Christ. Then we’ll talk about what’s going on in the Bible.” We are not that kind of church. We actually go into the communities that we need to go into, to reach those who are lost. Getting past that and doing those things, make it all possible. 


And what we do it through also is life groups. Most of us, if not all of us who lead a life group, know this to be the case. I can tell you that each and every one of us as group leaders love doing what we’re doing. We love the people and seeing their eyes just light up in their “aha” moments when a Word of God hits them. It clicks in their minds, and seeing that makes it all worth it. 


To give you an example of how to do this, I figured Jesus is the best example to show. What we want to do is help you find that one person this year to bring to Christ. 


Ask Jesus to help you find one person this year to bring to Christ.


Let’s look at scripture in the book of John, beginning at verse 4. Here, you see Jesus talking. 

 

John 4:4-6 (NLT)  He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. He Jacobs well was there and Jesus, tired from the long walk, said we really sad the world about noon time.

With me being a history major, I just couldn’t pass that part of the Scripture where it says, “Near the field that Jacob gave to his son, Joseph, and Jacob’s well was there…” To me, that part could have been left out. So, as a history major, I had to do some research to find out what is significant about Sychar and Samaria. 


During this particular passage, Jesus is leaving Jerusalem, going to Galilee. He is going from Jerusalem in the south to Galilee in the north, and you had to travel through Samaria. I looked at Genesis and found in Genesis 12:6-7 that Sychar is where Abraham first came to Canaan when he left Babylon. It is also the first place where God appeared to Abraham, as well as the first place where God renewed his covenant with Abraham and his descendants. 


When you go to Genesis 33, this is the place where Jacob met his brother, Esau, after leaving Laban and dedicating a place there. At that time in the Old Testament, this place was called Shechem. In Genesis 34, when tragedy struck and Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, was raped by the locals, in retaliation, her brothers went into the city and just annihilated, massacred everyone there. In Joshua 24:32, this is where the bones of Joseph were taken and buried after he was taken out of Egypt. And of course we are familiar with Joshua 24:15, where Joshua proclaimed, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”


Now we see Jesus going to a place where he is not only certain to run into a stranger, but he is going to a place where the part of the foundation of the Israelites started. The Jews avoided Samaritans, because they disliked and distrust them in the same way that we feel about some people that we come in contact with or we see out and about as we are traveling. So, most of this consists of doing something that is out of our comfort zone. 


I can remember going out and evangelizing for the first time and feeling uneasy about what am was going to say. What am I going to do? What if they do X to us? What if they’re saying this? What if somebody is doing that? But once I got there and we started talking to the people, all those doubts and fears went away, because you find out that those are human beings, just like you. They have likes and dislikes just like you. And you finally say, “Oh, I had the wrong thoughts and the wrong impressions.” And all those anxieties and fears went away.


Focus on a Relationship


You find that you have more in common than you don’t have in common when these things happen. So, the first point is simply, focus on a relationship. When I say to focus on a relationship, it is finding someone, talking to them wherever the are at, and dealing with it together. Let’s look at the example from what Jesus encountered in John 4:7-8. 

 

John 4:7-8 (NLT) Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.


So, you see the part that says, “Please give me a drink”? Jesus didn’t waste any time going through the formalities of asking her name, “Hey, how are you doing?” He is at a well, so what is the common statement you would make at a well? You’re going to say, “Hey, give me a drink.” 


But the problem with this well is, this well was a BYOB well (Bring your own bucket). Jesus didn’t have a bucket to draw water with. Knowing this, he asks this woman for a drink. She knows he doesn’t have a bucket, so of course she says, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with.” 


So, the conversation continues to develop, and Jesus develops a relationship with her from that statement. We have to understand that talking to someone and getting them to faith in God and developing that, getting to that point starts with establishing a small conversation.


I think Jesus figured that, “I asked her for water since I’m at a well.” And you don’t have to develop an outstanding outline to initiate any conversation or to see what’s going on next; you just do what comes naturally. You say something, someone says something back, and you just continue that conversation from there. You let the relationship just develop on from there, but you have to realize that when people see how Christ has transformed your life, they will want to know how they can experience that same power in their own lives. 


I can remember being in Korea and just going throughout my daily activities. When I was getting ready to leave. I had soldiers come up to me that were watching me, that I didn’t know were watching me. They said, “Hey, I just thank you for being an example and just doing things you never wavered from your faith. Regardless of what was going on, you stayed the course.” That was awesome to know, because you have to realize that as a believer, whether in your work environment in school, wherever you are, if people know that you are saved, they know that you have a relationship with Christ, they may never come and speak to you or talk to you outright. But, they’re watching to see how you respond to stuff that goes on in your world.


They’re paying attention to those cues. As you respond to the same situation, but your response is different from theirs, then they see that Word start to be a path unto your pathway, and they start to pay attention to that. From there, they will ask you little questions. And then those questions turn into more conversations. Then you start to move on from there.


Be Open to the Direction of the Conversation 


That brings us to our second point: Be open to the direction of the conversation. That is very important, and here is where the woman responds to Jesus with surprise.


John 4:9 The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink.”


The Samaritans had a historical connection to the Israelites. They were half Jews. So, they followed the first five books of the Bible (the law of Moses), but they added some superstition to the mix, which caused friction between them and the Jews.


Some Jews hated the Samaritans so much, that they hated them more than they hated the Gentiles, which is outrageous. Samaritans figured The Messiah was going to come to them in Samaria and worship with them on Mount Gerizim. Of course, the Jews were thinking, “The Messiah is going to worship with us at Jerusalem.” So, there were conflicts there. 


So, every time the Jews had to go through Samaria, they would go either to the right and go along the Jordan River, or they would go to the left and follow the Mediterranean Sea. They never really went through Samaria, because they just didn’t want anything to do with the people. 


And this brings us to another point. When you are encountering people who are lost, you want to see that they have some religious differences. They are going to have some traditions and some different understandings of God’s Word than you have. This is how I handle those that come to me with those conflicts. I just open the Bible to that passage of Scripture and show to them what we’re discussing, so they can see it. 


You don’t want to outright tell someone, “Hey, that’s wrong. That’s not what the Bible says.” That causes friction with them. But if you open the Bible, and you show it to them in the Word and allow them to see it for themselves, you eliminate yourself and you put God there. And God can defend himself. He doesn’t need us. His Word stands alone. Show them, even though you know up and down, that’s the wrong interpretation. 


My advice is, don’t outright say it. Open the Bible, show them the passage that deals with whatever your conversation is about, and show them other commentaries.If you can’t find it, you call someone and ask them. Show them in the Bible what God’s Word is saying to them, and let God, through the Holy Spirit, do his work that way. 


Paul even backs it up in Colossians 4:6 when he says, “Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response to everyone.” So, it’s not telling them, “You’re wrong,” and being confrontational; Paul is saying, “Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response to everyone.” He didn’t say to someone; he said to everyone. It is critical. 


All in all, this woman was a very fascinating woman. A lot of us know the story. She had five husbands. We know she had a sketchy past. She was quick-tongued, because she conversed back and forth with Jesus. He said something, and she said something back. So, she had some wit about her, and she also had some skeletons in her closet.


But Jesus continued to hold this conversation with this woman, regardless of her past. Immediately, this woman was impressed and dumbfounded, because Jews normally didn’t speak to Samaritans. And on top of that, rabbis didn’t talk to women. In the same way, you are going to encounter people that are going to look at you and wonder, “Why are you talking to me? I’m holding a beer bottle in my hand. I’m cursing. I’m doing all these things, and you’re still there.” 


It’s just going to take down that barrier and let them know that, “No, God still loves you regardless of what you’re doing, and you still can be saved. He still can bring about a reuniting of what you’re going through back to him, regardless of what you’re doing at that moment.”


Then, there are people who see our life groups. When I started out with people in my life group, for example, some, for four months didn’t say a word, not one word. They were poker-faced, and I asked God, “God, what am I doing wrong?” And the Holy Spirit just said, “Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep doing what you’re doing.” 


Over time, they started talking, and they start regurgitating all of these things that were said the previous months before. Some of it, I forgot I even said, and they remembered it. It hit, and they started speaking on it. 


You will find that what is going on behind the scenes is that the Holy Spirit is working on them from the inside out. When you think about it, we consist of a soul, a body and a spirit. When we are saved, only one third of us is saved. That is our spirit. Our soul and our body are in the process of being saved.


So your spirit is hearing the Word of God, and your soul tells your body what to do, but it’s contaminated. It wrestles with the Word from your spirit. And as the spirit touches the soul, the soul tells the body what to do. For me, I go to a lot of predominantly black churches, and you see guys with pants hanging down and girls with skirts that are probably too short. 


And I would tell people, “Don’t say anything.” And then once the Spirit of God falls on them, you start seeing pants go up and skirts and dresses get longer, because God is doing it. There is a part of them that has to come to the understanding and realization to get to that point to where they’re hearing from God. And then once they hear from God, then that transformation can take place.


But what we can’t do is say, “Well, I gave him the task. Now let’s do this.” In the military, what they say is, “We’ll do classroom in the morning, and in the afternoon, we’ll do practical application,” meaning you’ve got to put into action what you learned that morning. You’ve got to execute that.”


In the church, those rules don’t apply. For some, you may have to talk to them several times before they’re able to put those words into action. It doesn’t make them lost or less of a believer. The Spirit of God is just not going to move in their lives in a manner that we expect him to. Over time, you start to see that transformation. 


See the Person as God Sees Him or Her


Finally, the last point is simply, see the person as God sees him or her. John 4:10 says: 


 John 4:10 Jesus replied, “ if you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I will give you living water.”

I want you to look at the word you. Jesus replied, “If YOU only knew the gift God has for YOU and who YOU are speaking to, YOU would ask me and I would give YOU living water [emphasis added].” Jesus made this invitation personal. If you notice from verses 7 to 10, Jesus hasn’t ask her anything about her husbands yet. He hasn’t ask her anything about her past. He hasn’t asked her to confess anything at this moment. But he was giving her an invitation and presented her with living water. 


And of course, being at the well, she is thinking Jesus is talking about the water at Jacob’s well, and not so much the Spirit of God. The word you is found five times there. Jesus made it so personal. He said that what you say to others is said to you. We can’t judge people. It is a natural response to judge someone. If you look at someone who comes in looking kind of rough and someone with a suit, more than likely, you’re going to go to the person with a suit, because you’re going to feel like they’re more intelligent and will give you a better conversation than the person that’s looking kind of homely. But once they talk, it comes out differently. 


So, we can’t pass judgment on people. There have been a lot of people I’ve seen in suits who can’t put two words together and people I’ve seen who were rough and rugged, but were very articulate, very smart. And I was like, “Wow! We didn’t expect that!” That’s something natural that all of us have. And that’s something natural that we all have to constantly pray and seek guidance from God about, that he would allow us to move those barriers and get them out of the way. 


If you struggle with it, ask God to give you genuine compassion for the lost by giving you the ability to view him or her as God sees them and understand that beneath everyone’s tough exterior, they are someone that’s been hurt by the church or by another person. There is one of two things you’re going to find. They have either been hurt by the church, or they’ve been hurt by other people. And some of those pains are deep. Some of those hurts are deep. Some of those pains, it’s going to take you over a year of talking to them to get them in a place like church. But you have to be consistent. You have to be vigilant and active in going at them. 


If you was to go down to John 4:38-45, that’s a part of this text that most preachers don’t preach on, because that’s the part where Jesus leaves that well, goes into the village to talk to the Samaritans, and through that process, what was happening was that people were believing in Jesus because of the woman. But over time, as they started to hear Jesus for themselves, they started to believe Jesus also, because of his words. 


And that’s what we want to do with life groups; we want to bring people in. They may come because of you, but ultimately, you want them to eventually hear God for themselves and have their own personal relationship, because you don’t want them to stay there looking at you. 


I tell my group all the time, “Look, don’t depend on me, because I’m going to fail you. At some point in time, I’m going to let you down. So, you have to put your trust in someone bigger and better than me. I’m just that bridge to get you connected or introduce you to Christ, so you can have your own relationship in the same way I have my relationship. We can still communicate and be here together, but it has to be a process of transformation where you’re growing from being with me, to having your own personal relationship with Christ.”


As we are in our life groups, most of you know them as Bible studies. To me, you should have a personal goal, because no one goes to college and says, “I’m just going to go to college.” No, you want to graduate in four years. In a life group or a Bible study, you should have a personal goal. Either you want to be a leader of a life group yourself, or you want to bring other people into the fold. 


It would be a shame to look over your life of being a believer for years, and you look back and realize, “I haven’t brought anyone to Christ. I haven’t reached anybody. I haven’t gone out of my comfort zone in the same way Jesus went out of his comfort zone to sit at this well in a place where Jews were hated. Jews hated Samaritans, and Samaritans hated Jews.” And he went deeper into Samaria, stayed there for two days, talking to them and saving them. And then for us not to do anything even resembling what he did back then, it would truly be a shame.


And we all have family and friends that we want to see in Heaven, but what are we doing to help get them there? If you’re not communicating to them in a way to reach out, how are they going to be with you in heaven, if you’re that person that they see that goes to church, that believes, and that’s the example, but you’re not encouraging them, you’re not speaking to them, you’re not trying to bridge that gap for them to reach that point, to get to where need to be. 


In my group there was one guy that kind of stood out. He was one of the guys that came to the group, and I’m pretty sure all of them were kind of reluctant at first. And they just sat there for months, and I’m like, “Wow! Nothing.” Over time, he started to talk, and he started to share. And then that conversation went from just life group talking to during the week, he would call and text, and we would communicate. 


And when he was going through crisis in his family (his wife lost a job), he would call, and we would talk. But, this was the best moment for any life group leader. When we would talk, he would lead the conversation and tell me, “My wife had lost a job, and I said, ‘Come on, Honey. Let’s pray.’” And he would get his kids, and they would pray. For everything that happened in their family, he was praying. I told Pastor Jeff about this story, and I told him I was going to give this testimony. And everything that a life group leader or someone who’s a believer that talks to the unbelievers will say to him, he was saying to me.


So all those years of talking to him and being an example, he was experiencing something that we didn’t really deal with in life group. But, because of the work of the Holy Spirit, it gave him the answer to lead his family the way that God wanted him to lead it. And I was just sitting on the phone, just listening, thinking, ”Wow!” Everything I would say to him in this circumstance or situation, he was going through, he was saying to me, and he wasn’t saying, “I’m going to do it”; he had already done it! And that gave me so much joy to see him transform from that person that sat in the group saying nothing, poker-faced the whole time. I didn’t know if he liked being there or not. And to hear him come back and have those life experiences and say those things, it was awesome!