One of the things my daugher is really into right now is a game on the computer called 'Animal Jam'. If you so much as reference the slightest hint of this game in her vicinity, she will talk your ear off (about 118 miles an hour). In the past, I have kind of checked out when she starts playing 'Animal Jam' or talking about it. But I decided to start taking an interest recently. So on Sunday we were at the computer and she spent a good 15 minutes showing me each of her animals (the outfits they wore, the way they played, slept, danced and sat down). I must admit it was a bit overwhelming, but I purposed to hang in there.
That same night as I was tucking her in bed, she started asking me about which animals were my favorite on 'Animal Jam.' Then she had me create my own animal, and I had to pick out its outfit, color, special abilities, etc. It was a wild conversation but one thing that started to hit me was that her heart was drawing closer to mine as we spent this time together. I started to realize that if I wanted to have true influence on her heart and not just behavioral conformity, I needed to connect with her on a heart level.
I was reminded about Paul's words about reaching people for Christ from 1 Corinthians 9, '19 Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: 20 religious, nonreligious, 21 meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, 22 the defeated, the demoralized - whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ - but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life.'
So, I am trying to learn to love people by entering into their world and actually listening to their stories, their experiences and their opinions. Then, and only then, do I truly begin to have a platform of influence for the sake of the gospel in their life.