Bill Hybels in his book Just Walk Across The Room challenges his readers to more than just engage with people but to wholeheartedly reach out to them with acceptance and love, just as Jesus did.
We are to treat people with integrity and sensitivity, all the while concerned about their eternal destiny. Every Christian, according to Bill, has a mission while here on earth and this is to share the gospel with those around.
The title of the book comes from an account of how Bill, prompted by the Holy Spirit, walked across a room and introduced himself to a stranger. This man later put his faith in the Lord Jesus. “Just a few ordinary Spirit-ignited steps can have an extraordinary outcome.”
Jesus’ preoccupation with people should serve as our role-model. “If you are a Christ follower then you are called, equipped and expected to share the gospel” (p. 61).
We ought to go out of our way to love and care for others in obedience to The Holy Spirit’s promptings.
Bill’s natural evangelistic abilities do not necessarily mean he finds evangelism easy or straightforward. He writes very honestly about his “911” calls to God and his needing to tread carefully and to “muster courage” on occasions.
Evangelism can be really difficult, challenging, even risky at times. Some seed will fall on good ground, but often our sowing will seem fruitless. He encourages us nevertheless to keep on sowing. “The potential is colossal” (p. 42).
“Simple and safe was not exactly the theme Christ was championing when He warned His followers that being sent out as lambs among wolves was part of the deal. “Spotless and uncluttered had no place in the task of embracing a dying, broken, weary world with radical forgiveness and actionable love.”
In our relationships with people, Bill urges us to discover peoples’ stories (p. 84). Also he urges us to be confident in ourselves, to be natural and real, “let the conversation ebb and flow in sync with your authentic selves” (p. 86). We are to build bridges with the people we meet, not walls. He quotes Paul, 1 Cor. 9:22 “to the weak I became weak to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some”.
Being in tune with the Holy Spirit is vital in your relationships and conversations.
“Friends, there is no question in my mind about whether these encounters are worth it, even the messiest of them. I challenge you to take the risk, to sideline your own agenda and discover people’s stories no matter how uncomfortable you get, how awkward the situation becomes, or how heavy the sin is you’re sorting through with them…you just might be the single flame in someone’s dark night who reminds them that there is a God who created them, who loves them…” (p. 91).
With this in mind, Bill talks about the “be with” factor—how you have to “be with” people, that is, deliberately spend time with them. Only then will you discover their hopes, desires, dreams … and friendship building can begin. At some stage you will most likely have the opportunity to share your own story, which God may use to “ignite a spark that will one day lead to a miracle in a person’s life” (p. 130).
He urges us to believe in the power of the gospel. He calls us to be confident and to love “the sin-scarred” people all around us. “Take big steps. Take small steps. Take whatever steps you can…” He writes, “my role is to step out in faith, start a conversation, ask a question, explore whether there is an open door. And leave the rest up to God” (p. 158). “I am deeply moved each time I read the gospel accounts that show Jesus accepting, including and deeply loving people.”
With great enthusiasm he writes, “Just imagine it! Imagine your life being used to help someone live abundantly today and live in heaven tomorrow!” In the same vain he quotes a speaker from a meeting he once attended “when you get to the end of your life and take your last breath, what do you want your life to have been about?” (p. 187). “The issue is whether or not you are leveraging your creative energies, marketing skills and problem-solving capabilities for the sake of landing more people in heaven.”
Throughout his book, Bill has consistently spoken about the need to keep close to the Holy Spirit through prayer. Now he spends time emphasizing how absolutely vital prayer is for effective relationship building and witnessing. We need to be “devoted” to prayer, “Pray a lot! Pray when you are alone. Pray when you’re with a lot of people. Pray when you’re in small groups. Pray on your way in: pray on your way out. Pray in your closet, in your car, at your desk. Pray morning prayers, pray mealtime prayers, pray in between mealtimes. Pray fervently, expectantly, and unself-consciously. Pray when you’re ….” In effect we’re to pray in any and every situation. He emphasizes how Paul urged his readers to pray that above all he, Paul, would speak the message of the gospel clearly.
Just Walk Across The Room is a very engaging and inspiring book. Bill clearly challenges his readers to truly love and seek the lost and draw them into the kingdom of God. And to do this in reliance on God Himself.
To finish with two more quotes from Bill:
“Imagine what would happen”, he writes, “if every single on of us prayed fervently that God would open doors for us that day!”
“… No trophy, no promotion, no pleasure, no possession will ever hold a candle to the thrill we feel when God uses us to touch another human life for eternity” (p. 217).