“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me." For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: "Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;I will sing hymns to your name." Again, it says, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people." And again,"Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples." And again, Isaiah says,"The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him." May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit,” [Romans 15:1-16]
“Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?” [2 Corinthians 11:29]
“Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God -- even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved,” [1 Corinthians 10:32-33]
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost,” [Luke 19:10]
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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,” [Matthew 28:18-20]
While driving home last Sunday night, we saw one of the most beautiful sunsets we had ever seen. It was strikingly awe-inspiring and my mind was captivated by a single thought: “Who can paint a sky like that?” Do you look up at the sky on a clear night and marvel at the number of stars? All of creation is a limitless testimony to the depths of God’s love for His creation. This is the very sentiment David had when he wrote Psalm 8 and asked the very pertinent question: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”
Have you ever stopped to think about the great lengths that God took to make sure we had some form of testimony concerning eternal life? There is a “triad” of testimony that leads to salvation in God’s creation: We have testimony in the creation itself [Romans 1:20], we have testimony in the human heart –which was specifically designed to seek a relationship with God [Ecclesiastes 3:11], and we have testimony in the written Word of God [2 Timothy 3:16]. God also sent His One and Only Son to save us. And the Son became a servant to the Father that the lost might be saved. God went out of His way to make sure we know how much He loves us.
I trained to become a missionary; my degree is actually in “Intercultural Ministry,” (missions). While I studied to become a “vocational church leader,” I have been convicted by the Spirit time and again that we were all meant to be missionaries. The Great Commission of Jesus is either for all Christians, or for none of us. When the Church realizes why she exists, she becomes unstoppable. There is no formal education, great resource or trendy methodology necessary when the Christian feels confident in the Word of God and the Power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. I can say for certain (and from experience) that the greatest things happen when no one tries to control the work of the Spirit. But there is one ingredient that is essential for the Church to fulfill the Great Commission: We must love the lost as Jesus does.
I have been reading a book by Neil Cole called “Cultivating a Life for God.” In the opening chapters, Cole related how he needed to develop a deep love for the lost. He intentionally planted himself in public places where a lot of people would pass by and would pray, “Lord, break my heart for the lost…” Are our hearts broken for the lost?
There is one cardinal rule that one must adopt for himself or herself to become a missionary. It is the rule that Paul adopted for himself. It is the rule that Jesus adopted for Himself when He came to earth. The rule is simple, yet so many refuse to embrace this rule. Here it is: Identify with your target group. Paul states that he became a Jew to the Jew and a Gentile to the Gentile. Jesus took on human form to identify with us. When I went to Ukraine, I learned Russian, ate what Ukrainians eat and did what Ukrainians do. Why is it important to identify with a target group? Because by doing this, you show the love of heaven to the people of earth. By committing to cross a barrier to reach those on the other side, you commit yourself to loving the estranged, the unlovable, the “different.” Make no mistake, God’s mission requires sacrifice.
How much do you love the lost? What would you sacrifice to cross a barrier? How would you show the world that you love the lost –even more than what you would prefer to do? Is your love for the lost greater than your preferences? The challenge of the Great Commission really isn’t “making disciples.” The true challenge is loving the lost enough to change yourself and reach them where they are. This may mean making acquaintances with “undesirables.” Jesus did just this and was accused of associating with the “wrong crowd.” Maybe it’s time for us, the Church of Christ, to be found guilty of the same accusation.
Love in Jesus,