When I was 16 years old, some friends of mine started to talk to me about the Lord. They were followers of Jesus and were trying to share their faith with me. Reflecting on those times reminds me of the acts of love and care which show others the love of God…
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
I wasn’t interested at all in my friends’ ideas because, frankly, I was self-centred and focused on meaningless fun. In fact, I was pretty rude. I can’t imagine how offensive I was to them and I don’t even remember the things I said to them.
They weren’t discouraged, however. Their love for me and commitment to the Lord overwhelmed any offense I threw their way. Isn’t that how it goes?
There is some persecution to be found on the road to redemption. We will encounter mocking and even attack in exchange for the gift of God’s story of grace shared with our friends, family, and neighbours.
Their steady and sure care for me was persistent. They invited me to their events and get-togethers. I was the bad ass, black sheep, yet they didn’t treat me that way. They included me in a world in which many people are increasingly exclusive. Isn’t that the path of the gospel?
Jesus came to include people whom the religious leaders of his time were excluding. They condemned him for eating with sinners and spending time with those upon whom the world looks down. How can we do more of that today? Are there people you know whom you can include and gather into community?
Lucy’s story is similar. When she was a brand new believer in the Lord Jesus, a Christian friend and his wife picked her up and drove her to church on Sunday to make sure she was there and nurtured and cared for. They didn’t have to do that. They had kids and a busy life and they went out of their way to care for her.
Christian love is just that: it’s often out of our ways. We often have to inconvenience ourselves to give an advantage to the gospel in someone’s life. And if we can create a surprise in someone (wow, you would do that for me?) we have a greater chance of them considering that God has done something for them that is the greatest gift of all…
How can you and I turn outward to show Christ’s love to our friends, family, and neighbours today?