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One at a Time - Proximity Principle, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
September 13, 2022 6:00 am

One at a Time - Proximity Principle, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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September 13, 2022 6:00 am

Have you lost hope? I mean as you see the unrest, corruption, and evil happening all around us – have you thought ‘What’s the point in talking about Jesus?’ In this program, guest teacher Kyle Idleman continues his series “One at a Time” with an encouraging message! Don’t miss how we can cling on to the hope we have in Jesus, and the simple ways we can pass it on to a discouraged world.

Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram
Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram
Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram

Are you one of those people that's starting to lose hope?

I mean, all the negativity, the corruption, the evil, the shootings, the political unrest. Are you finally getting to the point where you're saying to God, I can't take it anymore? Well, if so, stay with me, because we're going to learn there's hope and how to get it. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. I'm Dave Drouie, and the mission of these daily programs is to intentionally disciple Christians through the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram. Well, in just a minute, we'll continue sharing with you our new series, One at a Time, taught by our guest speaker, Kyle Edelman. In these trying times, Living on the Edge is committed to turning to new teachers like Kyle for a fresh biblical perspective on the issues we're all facing. Our mission for Christians to live like Christians remains the same, whether it's through Chip's teaching or the occasional new voice. Now, for those who don't know, Kyle's a best-selling author, speaker, and lead pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Okay, if you have a Bible, turn now to the Gospel of John as we join Kyle for his message, Proximity Principle. If you're feeling like there's a lack of purpose, you're not really sure about this year or next year or three years from now, you're not fully content, you don't know why, I would just really encourage you to think about what we're talking through in this series, One at a Time Living, where you take the focus off yourself and you begin to think about, okay, who are the people that God is putting in my path each day that he wants me to influence and impact?

Like, this is why you're here. If you're a Christian, the reason why God didn't just save you and then take you to heaven is because he wants you to be on mission here. He has conversations, connections, he wants you to make people that he wants you to influence. As a church, it's our commitment to love people one at a time.

I think when we do that together, the opportunity to change this world is right in front of us. But really, it's all motivated by this Jesus way of changing the world, that we want to love people one at a time. Like, this is how Jesus lived his life. He challenges his disciples with this approach in John 13. So this is the same chapter where they have what we would talk about as the Last Supper, and Jesus washes their feet.

Okay, same chapter, same night in his life. And it's later, after all of that, where he is talking to them about how he wants them to be known. And here's what he says to his disciples in John 13, verse 34, 35. A new command I give you, love one another as I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, by loving people the way that I've loved you, everyone will know that you're my followers, my disciples, if you love one another. So Jesus is getting ready to send them out. It's a small group of followers, really, but they're going to turn the world upside down. And Jesus wants them to not forget that the way they are to be known, what should drive their mission, is their love for others.

Like, that should be what makes them so distinctive. And this is what changed the world through the early church, is the way that they loved people. Now, I know some of you, if you're like me, you sometimes think of yourself as a follower or a disciple, and you measure how you're growing in that based on things like knowledge. Well, I know more now than I used to know, and learning is part of being a disciple. Or maybe you think of theological understanding, or maybe you think of church involvement. You know, there's these things that are important, and there are ways to gauge growth, but how you love other people tells the most about your maturity as a follower of Jesus.

It's how you love. You can know all kinds of things, but if you don't love people the way that Jesus loved people, then you're missing them. So Jesus says it's a new command, a new command I give you. Well, what makes it new? Well, it's not new, new. Like, they've heard this. Love others is something that was talked about quite often.

So why is it new? Jesus says, what's new is that you're to love the way that I love you. This is how the world will know you're mine.

Like, he doesn't say, hey guys, this is after the last supper. I got something for you all. I'm just going to pass these out. I made some bracelets, and kind of pretty creative, really.

They just say WWJD on it. I just want you to go out. I want you to wear these bracelets. We're going to do a campaign around it, and I want you to hand out as many of these bracelets as possible, and by this, the world will know that you're my followers because you wear these bracelets.

That's wrong with wearing those bracelets. That's not what Jesus said would change the world. Jesus didn't say to them, hey guys, so here's the plan. The world will know you're my followers by your strict interpretation of every word I've ever said. So here's what I want you to do. I want you guys to separate into different groups. We'll call each of them a denomination, and you can argue and fight back and forth with one another and argue anything into significance. Whatever you do, don't focus on what's most important.

Get down to the granular. Make a big deal out of little things like your opinions and preferences. Make that what determines if someone gets to be a part of the church, and this is how the world will know you're my disciples.

That's not how that conversation went. It didn't say the world will know you're my disciples by your moral superiority and your self-righteous indignation. The world will know you're my followers by the way you're angry and judgmental towards other people who aren't my followers. So if you could just look disappointed in people all the time, I think that'll win the world over.

If you can just have a sigh of disgust that you perfect and you use it at work when somebody went to a party, when someone's talking about something inappropriate, if you'll just and walk away, it'll get them every time. They'll just come running. That's not how that conversation went. He doesn't say, look, the world will know you're my followers by your political preferences. All men will know that you're my followers by the politician that you back. By your yard signs, I will call all men unto me. That's not how it went. Love people one at a time. It's not, hey, by your social media posts, by your scrolling and trolling, I will call all men to myself.

That's not it. It's love the way that I have loved and the way Jesus loved was one at a time. And the disciples knew that that was different. Like the other rabbis, they didn't do things the way Jesus did. The disciples had a hard time figuring it out. That's why when they would be in crowds of people, the disciples thought that part of their job was to keep the people at a distance, to keep Jesus focused on the agenda for the day. He's teaching right now.

It's not a good time. That's how they approached Jesus while Jesus was constantly pushing pause on whatever the plans were and giving attention to one person at a time. Love people the way that Jesus says, I have loved you. And maybe the disciples weren't exactly sure what he meant. Like what's he mean by that?

And maybe as they're thinking about it, they look down and then they notice they're freshly washed feet. Oh, that's what he means. Love people one at a time is how Jesus loved. It's how he lived.

It's how he's called us to change the world. So if there's a word that maybe doesn't usually get much attention that I think describes what made the ministry of Jesus so impactful is the word proximity. Like proximity is what ministry came from in his life. The people he happened to be around determined what he gave his attention to. So ministry flowed out of proximity. And so we see this from the beginning when he comes to earth, we celebrate Christmas, we're celebrating the incarnation.

What's the incarnation? God with us. It's a celebration of proximity that Jesus didn't love us from a distance. He didn't just love us from far away. He loved us close up. He came and he dwelt among us.

I love the way the message paraphrases that John 1.14. The word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood. That's proximity. It's proximity.

Proximity lets you know that you're really cared for. Jesus did ministry that way. He did life that way.

He loved people with whom he was in close proximity with. Sometimes it felt more like happenstance. He didn't really plan it. And other times it felt very intentional and scheduled.

But nothing communicates that you care like just being there. So this week I came into the office on Monday. It was MLK day.

Office was closed. I needed to get started on the sermon because that's still coming and MLK understands. So I was in the office working on my sermon a little bit. And while I was by myself working on the message, I just felt like there was this burden, kind of something personal that I was struggling with and dealing with. And I knew I needed to share it with someone. But I didn't want to share it with someone.

You ever have anything like that? Because, you know, it's humbling. And the proud part of me just wants to say, I got it. I know what the Bible says, that we should bear one another's burdens. Galatians 6, 2. I know that that's what I'm supposed to do.

I just don't like doing it. And so I felt, I felt like God wanted me to share it with someone. And around that time where I was kind of feeling that conviction, I get a text from a friend who says, hey, it's not somebody I hear from very often. Hey, just wanted to check on you. I hope you're doing good today.

Let me know if I can pray for you, do something for you. I texted him back and I said, hey, I'd love to tell you I'm doing great, but I'm struggling with something and it would probably be good to share it with someone. I said, do you think you might have some time this week?

I was kind of hoping that'd be the end of it. Like, okay, God, I mean, that's close enough, right? He texted me back and he said, what about now? I said, well, I'm at the office and by the time you got here, that's probably, you're probably 30 minutes away. I'll just swing by your house this week. He texted me back, on my way. And he came up to the office and he listened and we talked and prayed.

And there's something about just showing up that has tremendous power. I remember when my dad's mother passed away. The funeral was taking place in the town I grew up in, Joplin, Missouri.

My parents lived in Evansville, Indiana, probably seven hours away. So they had made the trip for my grandmother's funeral. I was there as well, of course. And right before the funeral started, I saw, I don't remember, four or five guys walk in the back, stand in the back. And then I recognized them. They were from my dad's church, part of his men's group in Evansville, Indiana. When the funeral was over, they turned around, left, got back in the car, drove back to Evansville. They knew he had responsibilities, family, cousins, you know, siblings. And so they, this came and then they left.

What's that say? That proximity where you look up and somebody is there at just the right time. There's incredible power in that. It took me a while to understand that and appreciate it as a pastor. I remember as a young pastor while I was still in seminary but serving at a church that when someone went through something tragic, an unexpected loss of a loved one, I would go over to their home and just feel this anxiety because I wanted to say something to make things better. And I was 19, 20, 21 years old. I didn't know what to say. And I felt like I'm supposed to know. I'm supposed to know what to say to answer these deep questions and to put them at peace. And I never knew what to say. And then I remember listening to one of my professors in a pastoral care class say that in those moments, they don't remember what you say. They just remember that you showed up.

I think he's right. There's something about proximity, about being close. If there's ever a time where we need to be reminded of that, I suppose this is the time because we've become more and more comfortable with isolation and doing life from a distance and more and more uncomfortable with people being too close to us and more and more aware when someone gets in our personal space. And yet there's something about us that we have been made to live life in close proximity with others. I was reading in Japan that they put a new government position in place, the minister of loneliness.

The job is to help people find better connection with one another because they have found just that suicide has become more and more of an issue. And they said, we need each other and we're missing it. We got to figure out some creative ways to make sure we live in proximity. And we see all kinds of examples and research that would indicate that with the rise of social media, we actually feel more isolated than ever. Like proximity is actually more difficult. It's not easier. We struggle more with loneliness than we ever have before.

It's had kind of the opposite effect that we might think. I was reading a New York Times article about a guy named Hal who had 700 friends on social media. I can't remember if it was Facebook or Instagram, but he had like 700 friends and he was pretty proud of that. And he thought, you know what would be really cool? He's kind of doing it for the story.

He's a writer. It'd be really cool to get all 700 friends together. And so he put on social media an invitation that there was going to be this party and they were going to meet there after work, but he needed to know how many people were coming so they could attend or maybe attend or not attending. 15 people said they would be there.

60 said they might be there. He was hoping for 20. It's not a lot.

He has 3%, but 20. I mean, you got 20 friends. That's a lot of connection. He writes, and on the evening in question, I took a shower. I shaved, put on new pants and a favorite shirt.

Brimming with optimism, I headed over to the neighborhood watering hole and waited and waited and waited. And eventually one person showed up. And one woman who showed up to meet Hal, he didn't know her. She was a friend of a friend. They talked for a few moments. She left. He waited till midnight.

No one else came. He ordered a beer and salt. And he concludes his article with these words, 700 friends, but I'm drinking alone. And that captures where a lot of people are at in our world. There's something that's tremendously powerful. When those of you who are followers of Jesus decide that you're going to intentionally put yourself in proximity with someone who may not have anyone. When you intentionally show up for someone, even though it's inconvenient and you don't know what to say, but the fact that you're there is what they'll remember.

There's no substitute for this. I was reading earlier this year where Elon Musk, the world's richest human, I think he's net worth, it's like $280 billion, he was selling all of his homes. He had a number of homes.

He was selling all of his homes. And he talked a bit about why the material possessions were kind of a distraction from what he really wanted to focus on. But then he did this interview where he talked a little bit more.

And here's what he said. He said, being in a huge, empty house, when there are no footsteps echoing through the hallways, how do you make yourself happy in a situation like that? He said, when I was a child, there was one thing I said. I said, I never want to be alone. And then he whispered to himself, I never want to be alone.

And so he lives, at least reported that he lives in this $50,000 prefab one bedroom place where he can say focus on his work. Here's someone who's worth $280 billion, but there's within him this awareness that if you're living alone, if you're missing out on proximity, that it's hard to find joy. And so if you look at Jesus, he seemed to know this. And sometimes it was someone who was wealthy, like Zacchaeus, where Jesus just knew he needs to spend some time with me.

Zacchaeus, I'm going to go to your house today for lunch. And sometimes it was someone who was more of an outcast, like the woman at the well. Jesus sits down and has a conversation with her. But ministry flowed from proximity. You've been listening to the first part of our guest teacher, Kyle Eidelman's message, Proximity Principle, from his series, One at a Time.

Chip will join us here in studio with some additional thoughts about today's program in just a minute. Have you ever considered the remarkable impact Jesus has had on history? Well, think about it. He lived over 2,000 years ago and only had a small group of followers. But fast-forward to today, Christianity is the leading world religion. So what was Jesus' secret? In this series, Kyle Eidelman reveals the unexpected simple practice Jesus used to change our world. Don't miss how you and I can continue the work he started—one interaction, one conversation, one life at a time. To learn more about this series or Kyle's best-selling book, go to, the Chip Engram app, or call us at 888-333-6003. Chip's joined me here in studio now. Chip, I understand you have a really special email that you'd like to share with our listeners, so why don't you take some time here and do that? Thanks so much, Dave. I want to pause just for a minute, and if you're a financial partner with Living on the Edge, I just want you to hear a message that we received from a lady named Kelly who listens every single day. She said, thanks so much for your ministry and daily podcast.

I listen every day. I'm a recovering addict of many things. I grew up in a Christian family and was saved at the age of 17. Shortly after that, because of peer pressure in school, I started doing drugs. I now have a few years of sobriety and God saved my life, and He has totally removed the physical urge to use drugs and alcohol and cigarettes. I've now joined an awesome church that has small groups, and Christ has blessed me in recovery meetings. Anyway, thanks so much for sharing your life with others. You've made a positive difference in my life. Kelly is one of hundreds, actually thousands of emails that we get at Living on the Edge. I just call them life change.

Spirit of God took the Word of God, and it might have been on a podcast, could have been on the radio, could have been in a small group, could have even been a CD or a book. But God intervenes with their life, and something happens that changes the course of their life. And I just want to pause and thank you. You know, some of you write a check every month. Some of you have it taken out of your account every month. Some of you, like once a quarter, twice a year, you give to Living on the Edge. I want to remind you what it actually does. It's not about giving money. It's about extending ministry and changing lives. So thank you, thank you, thank you. And if by chance you're listening and you're thinking, you know, I've never given to Living on the Edge, but I'd like to get in on that, we'll give you a very simple way of how you can join the team and really make a difference.

Well, if this story inspired you and you'd like to become a part of our team, we'd love to have you join us. Your support helps us reach more and more people with biblical teaching as we encourage Christians everywhere to really live like Christians. To give a gift, go to or the Chip Ingram app. Or if it's easier, you can text the word DONATE to 74141.

That's donate to 74141. And let me thank you in advance for doing whatever the Lord leads you to do. You know, Chip, in this message, Kyle pointed out that Jesus was often on his way somewhere when he found himself in proximity to someone with a real need. Now, what can we learn from his example and how can we apply it to our lives?

Well, Dave, I think those are two really super points. And often we're asking God, Oh Lord, will you please use me? But then we have blinders on. You know, I get up and I've got a plan and you know, I write my journal and I actually use a to-do list and this is what I'm going to do.

This is my task. And then there's all these people that get in the way. And often I don't realize, Oh, that was on God's agenda.

It just wasn't on mine. And what you see is Jesus is almost always on his way to do something when he intersects with someone up in a tree or he intersects with a leper who's calling out his name or he intersects with a woman that falls at his feet and in his grabbing at his cloak. And I think what I've learned, I don't have it down. But what I've learned is make a good plan for your day and then really be open.

Be open because life change happens in proximity. I pastored for about 12 years in a very, very progressive town in California and the mayor was a homosexual. There was a very large homosexual population and we also had a crisis of runaway teens and the mayor was really concerned about runaway teens and as a pastor and a church that had really grown, we were concerned about runaway teens and he didn't want to meet with some evangelical pastor and I wasn't too sure about meeting with the mayor who was LGBT and yet we both said, Hey, you know, we, there's something in common here.

And as we talked, it was just crazy. He has intellectual integrity. He's very sincere. We disagree on morality, theology.

He actually really cares about these teens like I do. And I'll never forget both of us after that lunch looking at each other and realizing, you know, the stereotypes we had about one another, they're just not true. You're a person.

It didn't change my theology. But what I realized was I wanted to be this man's friend. I wanted to care about him.

I wanted to find out what made him tick. And you know, we walked away with mutual respect. We held our differences and we teamed up around really helping runaway teens.

And I think our world would be a far better place and Jesus models for us. You meet people where they're at. It's proximity. There's no such thing as them, whoever them are that you're critical of. You got to meet them one person at a time. We don't change our theology. We don't change the truth. But this is how you share the truth and love. Thanks Chip. Before we close, did you know there's a really easy way to soak in more of that truth Chip was just talking about? Through the Chip Ingram app, you'll find this series and countless others to listen to anytime you want. When you allow God's word to fill your heart and mind, you'll be able to truly enjoy the freedom that only he can offer. So I hope you'll check out the Chip Ingram app today. Until next time, this is Dave Drouy saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-26 05:26:11 / 2023-02-26 05:36:04 / 10

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