Sunday, December 13, 2009

Love...taking it a step further

I was thinking the other night about the Great Commission.

Jesus says in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

I think that’s an interesting command.  One that I know I very often fail at.  To go out into the world, making disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is no easy task.  It takes not only a heart for God, but a mind, hands, and feet set on Jesus as well.  After all the church (as a whole) and Christians are here on this earth to represent Christ.

So how do we do this? 

The first thing that comes to mind for me is missionaries out in the field.  They are the epitome of “making disciples of all the nations” for they are going to lands far and wide, where danger and adversity like we can’t even imagine face them.  They present the Gospel to ears and hearts that have never once heard about or felt the love of Jesus.  Missionaries are the classic example of the Great Commission.

Who else?

How about pastors?  Both here and abroad, men and women are out there shepherding flocks of believers and unbelievers alike in communities of faith so that more hearts are won for the Kingdom of God

Mind you these are but brief descriptions.

But what about you and me; the garbage men, the housewives/ stay-at-home moms, the bank executives the guy at the dry cleaners and so on and so on?  What is our role in the Great Commission?  Seeing as most of us don’t have Masters of Divinities, how are we to go out into the world impacting lives with the love of God?

I’m reminded of my last post concerning loving your enemies and the tough time I had and still have with doing that.  In the comments following that particular writing a certain Scripture was shared.  Here’s what it says.
Romans 2:1-4 : “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

Or better still, how about Matthew 7: 1-5, which states, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

This tells me that before I can go out and make disciples I have to stop judging.  It’s not my job to judge, it’s my job as a Christ follower to spread the Gospel.  But judging is the very thing that gets in the way so often and people…souls…are lost in the process because we have no concept of what it means not to judge.

I have to note before I go any further that Jesus says at the end of His great commission that He is surely with us always, until the end of age.  This means that regardless of the beefs we have with this person or that person, we have the Holy Spirit leading us in loving behavior…if we allow Him to.  There is so reason, if we let Jesus do in us what He wants, that we should be segregating who we think is deserving of redemption and who isn’t.

But, if we’re honest with ourselves, that’s what we do isn’t it?

We have these rouge congregations out there that quote Scripture for spreading hate instead of love.  We have communities of faith unwelcoming to outsiders.  We have hell, fire and brimstone spewing from the pulpits instead of grace.  We have denominations fighting over this and that in Scripture.  We are a divided church and because of this we have people all over the world left with the impression that Christians are hypocritical, unloving, intolerant, and well…judgmental.  Imagine that.

For every wrong doing, it takes multiple rights to make up for it.  For every extremist Christian group or even just one judging eye, multiple hearts run fleeing for something other than Jesus because we humans have royally messed up the simple message of Christ.

And simple it is…God loved us so much, He came to this world as a mere baby, to live a short life, then die the most gruesome of deaths, only to rise again so that we may have eternal life with Him in heaven. 

How sad that we can’t get that right.

When we speak to a person, believer or not, our every word, action and attitude (know it or not and like it or not) affects that individual for a lifetime.  So it is imperative that we let the Holy Spirit do the talking or else we’ll miss opportunities left and right to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God

We have to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.  We have to be the same people everyday, not just the ones we are on Sundays.  We have to live our lives like an open book everywhere we go and not just in buildings we call church.  We must look at people, not as just people, but as souls searching for a place in this life and beyond.  We have to look past sin and stains that mar them and find the part of them that longs to be and can be loved…redeemed.  We have to unabashedly proclaim the name of Jesus.  We have to strive to live Christ-like lives so that what non-believers see isn’t someone out to judge or condemn them, but to wrap their arms around them and love them, just as God would.  People are hurting and if we could set aside our pride and self-righteousness for one second, we might change lives...even our own. 

That’s our role, everyone’s role in fulfilling the Great Commission.

And it starts with less judging. 

Dear Jesus, I judge.  I take the love and grace that you have blessed me with and I’m stingy with it.  May you have mercy on me when it is in my time to sit at your feet and be judged.  I ask that you give me a heart of love and not one of condemnation, Lord and that you convict me in those times that I think I know all too well who is deserving of your grace and who isn’t.  Dear God, I pray that through your Holy Spirit I can look past all people’s indiscretions and simply speak truth into their lives for the sake of their salvation.  Lord, I love you and thank you and praise you that I am your child, along with all my junk.  You are an awesome God.  Amen.

So I leave you with this…

Ephesians 3:16-19
“And I pray that you being rooted and established in love may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge~ that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Be blessed.


Christie said...

That was beautiful! Just what my soul needed to hear... I love you ~

Sarah Mae said...

Oh, but it''s...


Hard not to judge, hard to share the gospel.

Darn sin nature.


Good post!