I imagine that some people still think that manipulation and fear is the best evangelistic weapon. I’m think love is.
It’s the lack of love that broke us, the pain we then felt created a need for a solution – and what swooped in to fill that need right away? The offer of sin. “If you just do this/that you’ll feel better. If we take that offer up too regularly we become enslaved to that sin. Ongoing sin leads to death.
I knew a guy who has seen his world disappear. His wife has divorced him and he has almost no access to his daughter. He’s all alone in a country that he doesn’t like. You can imagine his loneliness and his pain. I’ve never lost a daughter, but I spent time with him – and his pain is immense. How long can a person go on with such pain without turning to something addictive to numb it away?
What’s equally amazing to see in this guy’s life is how the friendship of Christians around him is influencing his thinking about life, God and people. Our love is a part of what sustains him through it all. It tells him that there is good in this world. He often says that without the Christians in his life, he would totally give up on this horrible world. He’s not kidding.
But NOW He knows there is a God and He believes in Jesus – because of the heart of the people around him. In such a greedy selfish world, who but God could create people who love one another through thick and thin?
This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. – 1 John 3:11
I had another friend over for a bbq a while back. My friend also has been through a divorce. My other friend spoke about how he had tried to do what is right for his wife, in spite of the problems that there had been. This guy immediately piped up: “so you’re a Christian huh?” to which my other friend said “yes” and my friend said “must be, Christians are the only people who would try and do something nice in a divorce”.
That’s exactly my point! My friend has begun to notice the difference between Christians and the world!
In this friend’s life, we Christians are the only ones who hang about with him, even though he is in pain and is sometime difficult to handle. We’re the only ones SPECIFICALLY COMMANDED to be the light to the world by loving the people around us.
Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.
And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. – 1 John 3:21-23
We’re literally given a new heart, one that loves, and commanded to use it. If we don’t… well…
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. – 1 John 3:14
My friend still dream of going back to his home town in the other country, but as he and I have discussed… he’d probably be lonely there because he has friends here who love him.
Since I’ve known him, his faith has changed, it has deepened, he knows that my love and faith is sustained (and commanded) by Jesus… so he has greater and greater respect for Jesus and he wants to follow such a wonderful God.
As we come into a time of unprecendented lawlessness, where people hurt one another and greed is the key to getting ahead… during this time the only thing that will make Christians stand out from the rest… is our obedience to Jesus’ command to love one another.
I know it’s not glamorous. I know it’s not obviously spiritually powerful. But it matters to the person we’re loving.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? – 1 John 3:16-17
Where the lack of love damaged people, conversely love can heal them.
- We are His body (we are the carriers of God’s love to a hurt and broken world)
- We are the light of this world now (we bring illumination and clarity in the darkness)
- We’re the salt (salt brings out the flavor and makes it taste better)
- We are the lamp that must not be hidden (we must shine!)
- We are the city on a hill (we must show the way)
Where the lack of love damaged them and created an entry for sin, the provision of love restores them and gradually CAN close that door. In reality the person needs God’s healing – but then love can keep that door closed.
Love tells the people that we are different – and it tells them that our God is different. He’s no wuss. He will judge everyone and destroy the evil doers someday. But for now, we are to tell people about His loving nature.
Loving people is tough. Damaged people are very hard to be around. It’s a gritted teeth determination that is required.
King David built a kingdom through almost endless war. No doubt the people of Israel thought this was good and wonderful. Surely God would be pleased? He has a magnificent kingdom. Such power on the earth!
But God said that David had too much blood (death, too much fighting) on his hands, so David could not build God’s house. God gave that right to David’s son Solomon. The message is: what we think is building the kingdom, may not be building the kingdom.
God wants our behaviour to one another to scream out that we’re different. Greed and jealousy doesn’t motivate us. Love does. He loves us and we want to love others. He wants us to make non-believers jealous, so they might decide to come in and sup with Him.
Salvation is not achieved in a moment. “Raise your hands if you want to be saved. Wooo! We had 123 salvations today!!”
It’s nonsense. That person has to be SAVED from this world and the enslavement of this world. It’s a big deal. It’s a long term commitment to help someone change their life, change their thinking and see God’s love is real and available to them.
And let me explain one more thing. Do you know WHY I stick with this friend through his pain? Because my good brother Michael did that for me as I was having my heart ripped apart just a few years ago.
When I was in too much paind for many people to handle, Michael kept coming over, kept meeting me for coffee. I survived, in part thanks to Michael and some other people at church. Now I know the true value of love. And I know now, having suffered myself, that other people need it.
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. – 1 John 3:18
Love is what sets us apart. It’s what makes us different. Unique.