I call all of this “preparing the soil to receive the seed of the gospel.” The picture and first paragraph are the metaphor for the idea.
Fill the bed with a rich, light soil mix. A general all-purpose recipe includes 1 part perlite and 2 parts each of topsoil, peat moss, and compost. Mix it well and remember to fertilize plants — either with a water-soluble fertilizer twice a month or a slow-release granular fertilizer once or twice a season. Or buy a prepackaged mix that contains a slow-release fertilizer.”
(Source: picture and quote from a DIY blog on Lowe’s website)
In many ways, what the Christmas Challenge (see here) has the potential to do is prepare “the soil of the neighborhood” to hear the gospel. Think of your response to this challenge as one of the ingredients you are putting in your “wheelbarrow”. There are other ingredients you will need to add, other “good deeds” that will make the “soil” or your community rich and ready to receive the seed of the gospel. And as you add those “nutrients” God will work to produce a harvest for his Kingdom and the joy of our neighbors.
So what are some of the other ingredients that you need to add to “your neighborhood?”
Try some of these:
Regular prayer for your neighbors—that they would experience their hearts turning to God and see his hand in the creation.
Regular prayer for your own boldness and willingness to be “discomforted” for the joy of your neighbor and the glory of your Lord.
Join your neighbor for a walk.
Invite your neighbor to your home. “What’s your favorite pie?” or “What’s your favorite soup?”
Help your neighbor with his Fall leaf-raking.
Listen to your neighbor talk. It is amazing what can happen if we are just available to listen. Pray not only for them but WITH them when they share a heartache, a worry, a sorrow, a concern. “Can I pray for you right now for that?” And then take 30 seconds and pray.
These are the simply gestures and acts that prepare the neighborhood for the loving proclamation of the gospel. We don’t know where the “good-soil souls” are (using the biblical metaphor). But we do know that our God wants us to adorn the gospel well as we seek to proclaim the greatness of our King and Kingdom. Let’s be faithful to the task. Maybe, our neighbors will have an entirely different and Christ-filled Christmas this year.