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January 16, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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I still remember words of wisdom I learned years ago at a youth leadership conference when the pastor said, “Young people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” It resonated with me. And now, after 17 years of ministry, it still resonates with me. Maybe even more. Yet I don’t believe it to be true just for young people, but for all people.
Everyone is looking for authentic love—a deeper connectedness that doesn’t just come from casual words or ideas exchanged, but rather an experience that leaves us affected . . . drawn closer . . . even altered in some special way that isn’t easily forgotten. Jesus was, and still is, the Master of this beautiful offering of love. He didn’t just say He loved us. He showed it by laying down His life, because He knew the greater worth it would bring us. He knew it would bring us eternity.
As disciples, Jesus asks us to follow His lead in offering the very same tangible love. We are His messengers—the hands, feet, and heart of Jesus actively expressed on the earth. Sadly, we often fall short of living out His love this way. We seem to trust more in the power of our words over the power of our actions. Truth be told, words are just easier and require much less of us. But something truly dynamic happens when a person isn’t just on the receiving end of what we say, but on the receiving end of an offering of genuine love. Those are the moments that linger . . . and open a door to share the gospel.
Over and over in Scripture, Jesus teaches and shows us what a life of authentic love looks like. He never failed to back up His words with actions. Our Heavenly Father feels so strongly about this that He called it the second great commandment: “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39 ESV).
In Christian dialect, this is called “outreach.” But it’s so much more. Far more than a mere charitable act, outreach is a mindset, a lifestyle, and the very DNA of a follower of Christ. Living to help and serve others should be the natural response of our love for Jesus. We should love what He loves. We should fight for what He fights for. And we should seek out the lost, because He seeks the lost.
One of the most powerful ways Jesus sought to reach the lost was through His many acts of service: miracles of healing, deliverance, provision, and forgiveness. In every encounter, He offered Himself. It’s true we’re not Jesus in the flesh, so our acts of service may look a little different, but any form of sincere service done with His love and His Spirit can still bring the same miraculous result—salvation!
So, what holds us back? What hinders us from living more intentionally to love strangers, neighbors, co-workers, or even family members? Fear, apathy, insecurity, lack of knowledge, busyness . . . even selfishness comes to mind. And as a result, we pass by divine opportunities every day. Yet the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37 didn’t pass by. This compassionate man noticed, stopped, and tangibly cared for a wounded stranger in need. And he didn’t walk away after his initial act of kindness. This Samaritan went the extra mile and provided ongoing care and provision. I wish Scripture told us more about the wounded man and his response to the Good Samaritan. But I think we can all imagine that if it were us we’d be deeply moved, grateful, and very likely blown away by a stranger of another race who actually cared enough to sacrificially serve and share love. I think most of us would want to know more about this Good Samaritan; buy him lunch, say thank you, and learn his story; discover what made him so rare, so kind, and so different. What a perfect platform for the gospel to go forth! And I truly believe this is what Jesus was trying to teach us through this parable.
Sometimes we make outreach and sharing our faith so much harder than it needs to be. We don’t have to be a biblical scholar in order to carry an elderly woman’s groceries to her car, strike up a conversation, and ask if we can pray for her. We can bake cookies for a neighbor, offer a cold drink to the mailman or lawn service crew, buy a colleague a cup of coffee and start a friendship, read to the elderly. mentor a teenager, mow a neighbor’s lawn, or even offer a free car wash for people in our neighborhood.
Look around you. Who do you see on a regular basis? Maybe it’s a waiter, someone at the gym, your hair stylist, or the co-workers you encounter daily. We all have a sphere of influence. God divinely placed us where we are in order to use us. But don’t feel any pressure, because only Christ has the power to save people, not us. When we release the responsibility for another’s eternity, we are then free to simply serve and share. We are just the messengers of His love. Yes, with our words, but through our service we can build a bridge and open the door to share Jesus. All He’s looking for is our availability, willingness, and prayers of faith. Be intentional, even sacrificial enough to go the extra mile, and then trust God to move!
If ever this nation needed to see real love lived out, it’s now. And not just during the holiday season, but all year ‘round; every day and every year until Christ comes back. Our lost and wounded world is searching for something authentic and tangible . . . searching for someone to rescue and redeem. And we know His Name. “For there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 ESV).
May we, as Christ-followers, be the brave and sacrificial ones willing to go the extra mile to show love to all those we encounter. Pray and ask daily for a divine appointment. Then look around. And when you see the person He’s placed before you, don’t let the opportunity pass you by.
“Little children (believers, dear ones), let us not love [merely in theory] with word or with tongue [giving lip service to compassion], but in action and in truth [in practice and in sincerity, because practical acts of love are more than words].”—1 John 3:18 (AMP)
Upcoming Serving Opportunities:
Saturday December 3, 9am. Join us as we invade a local laundromat assisting those under-resourced in our community with doing their laundry, serving a meal, and friendship evangelism. Meet in the Outreach Meeting Room at the Fort Lauderdale campus.
For more info, send an e-mail to Lysa@CalvaryFTL.org.