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September 12, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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I didn’t fly to Nashville to evangelize. I flew to Nashville to visit a friend and have a fun, long weekend away. But I found myself at a party, sitting with my friend and a group of strangers. I was antsy, uncomfortable, and I wanted to leave. I politely refused the assortment of things being smoked. I quietly went along with the evening and patiently waited as the minutes ticked by, waiting for my friend to want to leave.
I got up to use the restroom. I stood behind the door, staring at myself in the mirror for what felt like an eternity. Shutting my eyes, I quickly spoke with the Lord, “I don’t want to be here. Why am I even here? Lord help me.” Tearing my eyes away from the mirror, I walked back into the stranger’s living room. Sitting back down on the uncomfortable chair, I turned to respond to a question being asked, and that’s when I heard it. It was like the Lord was writing words into the air as I heard them, “I love him.”
It was then that I realized—I hadn’t taken even a second to really look at the people around me. I had sunk into uncomfortability and let myself stay there, selfish, unwilling to see the people surrounding me. I leaned farther towards the one who’d caught my attention and refocused my eyes. An interest in this stranger sparked in me as I chose intentional conversation with him, truly listening to his answers and letting his passion for life carry the conversation. Every time I felt my mental focus go blurry, I heard it again . . . “I love him,” bringing my intentionality back into focus.
Difference Between Knowing and Loving
So often, I believe as Christians we can be so focused on how to get somebody to Christ. We hear it in church, from our Christian friends, and in every Christian book in existence, “Make disciples!” “Be a witness!” But do we really know why we’re told to do this?
Since that night with my sister and her coworkers, I’ve had countless conversations with the Lord. I’ve wondered why He was so forward with me that night in a stranger’s living room, and what that could mean for me when it comes to loving others. I finally heard Him say, “It’s not enough to just know the people I love—I want you to see why I love them.”
Sitting in that terrible chair, leaning forward, bright-eyed to a newfound friend, I started to see the love of God unfold for him. I didn’t lead this stranger to Christ, I didn’t even mention that I’m a Christian. In that very moment, all I felt the Lord saying was to see this person the way He does.
How Do We Love Like Christ?
1) We must know His love for us. Before we try to extend the love of God to others, we must believe that we are loved. Do we believe that we’re chosen, appointed, and redeemed ambassadors for Christ?
Jeremiah 1:5 (HCSB) says, “I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born.”
1 Peter 2:9 (HCSB) says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
2 Corinthians 5:20 (HCSB) says, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, ‘Be reconciled to God.’”
Do we share the hope of Christ with people because we’ve been so drastically drawn by His love for us? Or do we share the gospel with people because we feel like we have to? Perhaps it’s a spiritual list we must check off, and sometimes we’re just not in the mood. But when we understand and believe what Jesus says about us, we can’t help but desire the same for others.
2) We must know His love for others.
Matthew 22:37-39 (HCSB) says, “He said to Him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
How do we love others if we’re concerned with only loving ourselves? Do we withhold sharing the love of God with people because we’re too concerned with our own lives? If we are to spread the love of God into the world, we must realign our focus with the Lord’s and put others first.
3) We must choose His love for others.
Many relationships have been ruined because Christians were more concerned about “fixing” someone before knowing his or her heart. Scripture is clear, man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7.) Mirroring the character of Christ and being an ambassador for Him is to look past the appearance and to look at the person’s heart. And how do you know someone’s heart? By getting to know them.
“An ambassador is a person who can deal with people in a sensitive and effective way. The problem so often is that Christians don’t endeavor to be His ambassadors. . . . Instead, we feel it’s our job to be the world’s doctors, diagnosing everyone’s problems and pointing them out to them. . . . We should do everything we can to point people to Him, with our actions, with our attitude, with our words, in our interactions. We should treat them as He would, with compassion, grace, and love.”
—Christ’s Ambassadors, Danny Saavedra
Before we effectively share the love of Christ with others, we must lay down our false assumption that we can fix someone. Instead, we must point them to Jesus, who can restore and renew them from the inside out.
Maybe the Lord leads you to a miraculous conversion in the McDonald’s parking lot, or maybe He doesn’t. But when the Lord says to love someone, we must do so. When we know His love for us, for others, and choose to love them the way Jesus does, we see the beauty of their hand-crafted hearts and minds. When we see those parts of people, we can’t help but love them, serve them, and offer ourselves and our time to them—truly loving them more than even ourselves.