When God sent out the first missionaries—the apostles—he sent them with a task to do: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matthew 28:19-20). Then, He equipped them with special sign gifts, and He dispersed them. That same task is ours today.
One of the characteristics of discipleship is love. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:35). People could tell that they the disciples) had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). Later, the Apostle Paul spoke of his love for others and how they were to love both the brethren and the unsaved.
Love sounds so warm and fuzzy. So nice. So marshmallowy melty—like in hot chocolate or s’mores.
Love the brethren (and “sistern”).
Love those who don’t yet know the Lord.
But it ain’t easy!
- No one told you about that person at church you can hardly tolerate.
- No one told you about those who only want money and physical helps and have little or no spiritual interest.
- No one warned you that some people would be plain stinky. (Take that however you like.)
- No one said you’d have to hear a lot of lies before you heard truth.
We weren’t warned, and love is hard.
Why should we be surprised? 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a says, Charity (Love) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth.
It’s hardly a walk in the park. Concepts like: suffers long, not easily provoked, thinks no evil, bears all things, and endures all things don’t make you believe it’s easy to love as God wants us to.
If I live to be a hundred, I will never comprehend one tiny bit how God loved us so much that He was willing to sacrifice His Son for us. How could Someone as great as God even think of us, let alone think we were worth rescuing? How could Jesus give up His life for us and suffer such torture for us?
Love. It’s beyond comprehension.
Gospel love—Jesus coming to earth to save us—is the whole motivation for missionary love. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you (John 20:21).
Do we really love people?
Are we willing to give our energy and time in order to love people?
I am not talking about mushy-gushy. I am not talking necessarily about social programs. I am not talking about enabling people to continue to do wrong by providing for them so they can spend it elsewhere for their vices. I’m not talking about education in itself—although I believe strongly in Christian schools and training nationals in Bible institutes and colleges.
I’m talking about winning people to the Lord, being their friend, discipling them, encouraging them. I’m talking about being a Barnabas.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). We know God loved like this. Do we really love the world?
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5-8). Do we really have the mind of Christ? Are we joyous servants to people? Are we humble and obedient?
Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain (Philippians 2:14-16). Paul instructs the Philippian believers not to squawk, not to get into arguments, to keep pure lives, and to shine and share the Bible with others. The goal? To be able to rejoice on Judgment Day. Will we be happy followers of Christ that can rejoice in that day? Will we have earned a crown or two to cast at Jesus’ feet? Will we not be ashamed?
Love as Christ loved.
It’s a huge, impossible task.
- We can only do that in Him.
- We can only do it by letting Him do it through us, with His enabling.
- We can only do it when we’re selfless and filled with Him.
- We can only love as Christ loved when it’s supernatural.
With God, nothing—not even Christ-like love—is impossible.
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you:
continue ye in my love.