[a continuation of the lessons I learned in Vegas. more about that trip can be found here.]
Loving unconventionally is what Jesus is all about.
His approach to love was strange but needed for the people He came to save; ours should be too.
Our visit to Vegas coincided with what Grace City called “Love Week”: a week dedicated to reaching out to the city of Vegas to love them without restrictions or an agenda. The premise was that God’s love has no agenda. He just loves us. There’s no catch to His grace. One of the most beautiful phrases I heard all week was this: “Jesus died for the catch.” And so, we ought to love others without a catch.
Some of the ways that we reached out during Love Week were a little… atypical. At one point, I wrote “Free Hugs” on a sign, for cryin’ out loud. Two of my favorite ways of expressing the love of Christ were buying people’s coffees and the Compliment Chair.
Can I buy your coffee?
During one afternoon on the campus of UNLV, I approached four or five individuals in the line for Starbucks and asked them this question. Every single one of them looked at me, blinked, and said, “Why?”
We’re not used to getting anything for free. There’s always a catch. But remember… Jesus died to take away any catch. So I gave them an honest answer: “I want to do this for you because I want to spread the love of Jesus, which doesn’t cost you anything.” *pause* “Well, okay…” I got to know my new friends while we waited in line, and at the end of our conversation, I asked if I could pray for them. Simple.
Unexpected extensions of undeserved grace and free gifts are a perfect picture, on a micro level, of what Jesus did for us. Showing that selfless love to people is a beautiful gateway to show them the love of Jesus. At one point, one of the Grace City staff members practically started a riot in Starbucks by buying everyone’s drinks and spreading infectious joy… It’s amazing what free gifts do for us, and that’s not even as exciting as the free gift of grace from Jesus!
The Compliment Chair.
I’ve done my fair share of evangelism, but I had never heard of this approach to loving people and reaching out to them. What happened: two Grace City staffers and I took a folding chair through the campus of UNLV and stopped individuals in their tracks, asking, “Would you like to sit in our compliment chair?” Again with the pause, blink, and confused questions. But once we persuaded people to sit down in our chair (in the middle of the sidewalk, usually), we immediately took turns bombarding them with compliments.
“I love those glasses on you.”
“Your beard is awesome.”
“Your fashion sense is fantastic.”
“You have a great smile!”
And then deeper:
“You seem like a great friend.”
“I can tell that you care deeply about people.”
“You are loved by God the Father.”
You wouldn’t believe the surprised joy on people’s faces as they sat in stunned silence, receiving more compliments than they’ve probably heard in a long time. When they inevitably asked why we were doing this, we told them, again, that we were spreading the love and joy of Jesus. Isn’t that a cool way to share the love we have for people as Christians? And by the power of God, I was able to use the conversation started with a young lady using the compliment chair to enter a deep, heart-to-heart conversation with her and ultimately tell her the Gospel, which she accepted. Isn’t God AMAZING?
So, I learned in Vegas that you have to adapt your approach to sharing the love of Jesus to the needs of the people. If they need a coffee or a compliment, you give that to them. Because love is what we’re called to do.