Can you hear me now?
I once had an alarm that would sneak up on me. When it first turned on, it was very quiet. Then, it would grow slowly louder and louder. In those wee hours, I would have dreams that included a faint beeping sound in the background until, suddenly, I realized that the beeping was my alarm and I would wake up.
Something like that is happening in our church body. We have been talking for weeks now about what it means to be for our city; what it means to have hearts of awareness and compassion that see those around us with new eyes—God’s eyes—and really begin to notice them; really begin to care about them. Maybe even really begin to pray and reach out to them in kindness.
This is not an evangelism campaign; it is a friendship campaign. It is a challenge to reach out beyond our comfortable, church-centered relationships and develop new relationships of love and compassion. Over and over you have heard me say similar things each Sunday: look around you! Open your eyes! Notice what is going on! Ask God for his heart of compassion for those you meet.
Apparently, this gentle drumbeat has been a lot like that alarm of mine: slowly it has begun to break through for more and more of you. Slowly you have begun to realize that this message of compassion and awareness is not for the person next to you in the pew—but for you!
One man told me two weeks ago, “I just realized: you are preaching to me about my neighbors. I’ve lived here for 15 years and I don’t know anyone beyond the two closest houses. I’m going to do something about that.” Last week I got an email with pictures of one man’s “For the City” card in which he had noticed a fireman painting a fire hydrant, a “challenged” young man near Anthony’s, a lady in front of Target looking into a trash can. He also noticed “more people saying hi” than usual. He asked me, “Is this the right idea?”
Indeed it is! It is drawing our attention away from ourselves an onto those around us. It is noticing, caring for and praying for those whom God has brought into our lives. Slowly, the volume is turning up and more and more of us are “waking up” to realize that this is a call to everyone in this church family to raise their hand and say, “I’m in!” as we learned last week.
Okay. We’re turning up the volume another notch. Soon, we are going to introduce something called “1-4-3.” It is a very simple idea: every person in Chapel Hill will be “for” “3” people who are not a part of their Chapel Hill family. They will pray for them, they will be aware of celebrations in their life and join them in that celebration, they will be aware of difficulties in their life and encourage them, they will send occasional texts that inspire, appreciate and champion the unique person that they are. Every “1” of us deciding to be “for” “3” specific persons. 1-4-3.
Imagine if 1,300 of us each identified 3 non-churched, non-Chapel Hill people whom we would champion. What an impact that could have on blessing this city!
1-4-3. I want you to become familiar with that phrase. You will hear more and more about it in coming weeks. And yes, I am speaking to you! Can you hear me now? (Sound familiar?)
By the way, I’d like to hear your stories of who and what you’ve noticed about your city—and what God has prompted you to do about it. Please send them to me HERE!
Blessings on you as God opens your eyes to all that is around you.
P.S.—If you haven’t yet had a chance to sign up for the Men’s Service Day on Saturday, October 12, you still have time. We’ve got indoor and outdoor jobs to tackle around the building; breakfast and snacks are included. Bring your work gloves! We’ll start at 7:00 am and finish by 1:00 pm. Ages 12 and up welcome. This is your chance to break out a sweat for our Sweetheart Church! Are you coming?