“What is the greatest commandment?”, they asked Him. “Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first, and greatest commandment, and the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” With these words Jesus established that following Him is all about relationships. Relationships don’t just happen. They are built. The raw material of relationships include genuine concern, time, attention to details, thoughtfulness, forgiveness, encouragement, warm smiles, a sense of humor, and much prayer. One of the greatest challenges in beginning a new relationship is the skill of making contact. I have a friend named Bob who had tried to build a relationship with a man who lived next door. My friend was a family man and so was his neighbor. Bob was fairly certain that his neighbor was not a Christian so he wanted to befriend him in order to be able to touch his life. Bob usually was very good at making friends. He had a great sense of humor and met people rather well. After several attempts at speaking or making contact, it became obvious that his neighbor was not particularly interested in him. He prayed for a good opportunity to see a change. One day the neighbor was cooking on the grill in the front yard. When the man went in to get some sauces Bob hurried over and gently rolled the grill into his own front yard. The man came out and looked around wondering who would steal his steaks, grill and all. Bob peered over the hedge laughing heartily and invited his neighbor over for steaks. It worked! They became friends, and Bob was able to begin to minister to the man’s spiritual needs. Of course the grill was quickly rolled back, Bob was invited to throw a couple of things on the grill. They ate together and got well acquainted.
Now please don’t think I am suggesting this as a great method. In prayer, Bob had decided that this man was the type who played rough with people. Knowing this he used a little fearless teasing to achieve a breakthrough. God is able to show us how to do that. God got my attention one day and I hope He also got yours. We must get the attention of those with whom we establish relationships. Bob’s comment years later was that he just had to get to know anyone with the courage to take his grill and steaks right out of his yard.
I often visit homes in my community where I do not know the people living there. It is usually in the early evening. One of my standard greetings is to ask, “Is supper ready?” It always brings a smile and sometimes a laugh. It often creates an atmosphere of curiousity on the part of those who dwell there as to what kind of man talks like that to strangers. The hardest part of a relationship is laying the foundation. You can’t build anything without one.