Earlier this week during my Bible study I came across this quote,
"We are given small windows of opportunity to show God's love in tangible ways."
Jesus' mission on earth was to redeem the lost, the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners. If you're a Christian today, you were once lost too. So how come as Christians we find it so hard to relate to lost people? Maybe because the very word relate depends upon the fact that we develop relationships?! Right there's a clue. And I may not be the brightest crayon in the box, but I figure if we're not in relationships with lost people, we sure won't be able to relate to them easily. And lest you forget, we do have a common thread: we are all image-bearers of the one true God.
Jesus had the uncanny ability of living in this world, yet He was not of it. He didn't care who He was hanging out with; the sinners, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the lepers, etc. So why should I? He developed relationships with them. He invested Himself into their lives while on earth, yea unto His death even!
Might I propose some insight as to why Jesus was able to accomplish both? Everything Jesus did was intentional. Intentional is defined as "being characterized by conscious design or purpose;
done or made or performed with purpose and intent." Never on earth has there been a man of such purpose. And while hanging out with these sordid types, His conversations were thought-provoking to say the least. He talked about God, sin, eternity, love, hope. I wish I had the ability to see through peoples' facades like Jesus did. He played no games, He cut to the core and dismantled the beliefs and values that people were clinging to by asking simple questions. Yet He did so with love and humility.
I'll admit it. I am stuck in the proverbial Christian bubble. It's a nice place where you know your friends share the same beliefs. You can let your hair down. You can blast your Christian music. The only time I am around or should I say in the vicinity of lost people is at work, my condo community, and while doing errands; a pretty limited scope of interaction. Yet all the more reason to really do something about it and be intentional with loving the lost and sharing the Gospel.
I've been reading the book "Revolution in World Missions" by K.P. Yohannan and some chapters have been extremely convicting. I'd say the one that hit me the most discussed how Christians have begun to equate helping/serving/relief work as evangelism. Yes, we do need to show God's love to others by doing all of the aforementioned things, but we are missing an extremely crucial element if we are not telling them of the Gospel. By taking care of only someone's physical needs and not spiritual needs as well, we are doing them a disservice. Likewise, vice versa. We must show God's love to others by serving them and by sharing the story of His Son.
A great illustration of this is found in James 2:14-16, "What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?"
Loving the lost requires that we take risks by developing relationships and that we truly love them. While fully recognizing their spiritual condition we should not let that determine or affect how we love them. We don't love them any less than we would our own flesh and blood! We needn't worry about that imaginary white elephant in the room.
- Am I honestly concerned for lost people? Jesus wept over Jerusalem and its need for peace. When was the last time I was that moved or actually cried over someone who is lost?
- Am I accepting active responsibility for ministering to them? Or is that just for super spiritual people to do?
- When was the last time I really shared the Gospel with someone I know is lost?
- Am I willing to get messy and develop a real relationship with them?
- What is hindering me from doing so? Embarassment? Pride? Apathy? Fear?
- When I'm talking to a lost person am I exuding humility? Am I speaking Christianese? Jesus was able to be humble and speak an everyday vernacular with the common folk.
Just do it a.k.a. because-I'm-commanded-to-do-so!:
- What ways can I show tangible ways of God's love to someone specifically in my life? (Read James 2 for insight)
- Share the Gospel and live life with lost people (1 Thessalonians 2:8)