"Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me."
-- Matthew 10:40
It's a time-honored tactic at dinner parties and job interviews.
It's name-dropping, which means introducing the names of celebrities or otherwise important people into the conversation to imply a relationship. Claiming that our spouse is the fourth cousin twice removed of a B-list Hollywood actor is often enough to garner nods of approval at the office's Christmas get-together.
Name-dropping can be silly or even annoying, but sometimes it's OK to brag about a relationship with the right person. And in the Bible, it's actually encouraged:
"But the one who boasts should boast in this: that he understands and knows me--that I am the Lord, showing faithful love, justice and righteousness on the earth, for I delight in these things," we read in the Book of Jeremiah. "This is the Lord's declaration."
With this in mind, maybe it's no surprise that Christianity is a faith built on relationships. For example, there's a parent/child relationship between us and God. And it's a bond that's only made possible through Jesus' death on the cross--a fate 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 certain death and eternal punishment. Moreover, this same relationship makes us heirs to his Father's Kingdom.
That's great news. But God also wants us to make relationships with others so they too can begin their own faith journey. That means introducing them to Jesus, sharing his story and relating all that he's done for us. And when these future Believers come to the inevitable rough patches in life, they'll always know The One 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 especially our enemies. After that, we shouldn't be surprised when we begin to see God's power at work. Jesus set the example long ago when he sent 12 of his followers to nearby Jewish communities to spread the Good News (the Gospel):
"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."