"Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me."
-- Matthew 10:40
You know who they are.
Maybe they're a co-worker, that neighbor down the street or even your brother-in-law. They're the ones you call when you're up against an impossible situation. Like the time you needed a pair of tickets to that sold-out concert. Or a reliable plumber to fix a broken pipe on a Sunday night. You won't soon forget that affordable mechanic they recommended. And how about that iPad they found for your child last year...just when you were sure it was sold out?
No doubt it's wise to keep these special people high on your Christmas card list. They're the folks who know someone who knows someone who gets things done. Simply put, they have connections.
And so do we as Christ-followers. That's because ours is a faith that embraces relationship over religion. Specifically, there's the ultimate parent/child relationship between us and God. It's a bond that's only made possible through Jesus' death on the cross--a penalty we all rightly deserve for our lifetimes stained by personal failures and shortcomings (also known as "sin"). But since we're connected with the right Person (Jesus), He's already paid the price to save us from a certain death and eternal punishment in hell. What's more, Christ has us covered so well that we're literally heirs to His Father's Kingdom.
That's the primary relationship we enjoy as Christ-followers. But God also wants us to make relationships with others so that they can begin traveling on their own faith journey. That means introducing them to Jesus, sharing His story and relating how His death on the cross means a whole new life here on earth...and later in eternity. And when these soon-to-be believers come to those inevitable rough patches in life, they'll always know Who to call.
How do we get the ball rolling? One of the best ways is to begin praying for people by name. They can be our family members, co-workers, neighbors, political leaders, the unsaved--and particularly our enemies. Later on, don't be surprised if God opens up some circumstances where we'll be the answer to somebody's prayer.
Jesus set our example when he sent out some of His followers to spread the Good News (the Gospel) to Jewish communities near Jerusalem:
"Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel," He told them. "As you go, proclaim this message: 'The kingdom of heaven has come near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give."
Here was a time Jesus instructed His followers to actually be the answer to someone's fervent prayers in the midst of difficulties and pain--and use their connection with Him to do the seemingly impossible.
Do you have friends in high places? As the saying goes, it's not always what you know that counts in life. It's Who you know that makes all the difference.