As we reach out with the love of Jesus it doesn’t take very long to figure this out: the cupboard is sometimes bare.
As we aim beyond ourselves it seems there are regular shortages. At times there are too few supplies. Then there’s the issue of too few people to carry out the mission. Sometimes we come up short on vision. As my grandma used to say, “It’s all too little too late!”
No matter what your apparent limitations there is great good news. Be encouraged: God’s favor rests upon those who reach out to those He loves with acts of mercy. God anoints us when we reach out to love the not-yet included. Love is our only asset. Love has ALWAYS been our only asset.
When we act as though we have other tools and strategies going for us to accomplish God’s mission we make it clear we don’t understand the basic strategy of Jesus. I recently read a book that bemoaned the loss of the so-called Emergent generation in the Church today (those between ages 18 and 40). The author of this bestselling book examined the situation and then offered a number of responses to this dilemma the Church is facing. It struck me that the most obvious solution to connecting with this generation was not touched upon. What about plain old love?
It may sound cliché but as I understand the theory, it’s love that causes people to respond to the life of Christ. When love is present among God’s people, and through God’s people, those on the outside are drawn to Jesus in magnetic ways.
Yes, we need to learn to listen to those outside the Church far better. Yes, we need to stop judging non-Christians as they make their way into relationship with Jesus. Those are vital skills to develop. There is a need to repent for shabby attitudes in the Church these days. But those skill sets aren’t going to patch the leak in the bucket that is causing Emergent people to leave the Church.
First Century Believers lived at a time similar to ours, but the concern wasn’t just for a single age group. They were concerned for all the age groups of all the world. There was enormous concern. No one outside the Church was listening at the time. There was a real possibility that Christianity might be a one-generation thing. Peter addressed that concern the best.
“Love one another deeply for love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8). That love is not limited to just those who think like us, who believe like us. Loving those outside the Church will happen spontaneously as we walk in the Spirit, as we walk in the example and power of Jesus. He exported his practical love and mercy to all who were open hearted who crossed his path.
There are open-hearted Believers and Not-Yet Believers right around you now. Let love flow!