The Great Commission . . . Isn’t Optional

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 us by laying down His life, because He knew the greater worth it would bring us. He knew it would bring us eternity. As disciples, He asks that we follow His lead by 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, rather than 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 how we offered genuine love. Those are the moments that linger… and open a door to share the gospel.

"We make outreach and sharing our faith so much harder than it needs to be. "

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 on this that He called it the second great commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) In our Christian dialect, we call it “outreach.” But it’s far more than a mere charitable act. Outreach is a mindset, a lifestyle, 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 love what He loves. We fight for what He fights for. And we 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 that we’re not Jesus in the flesh, so our acts of service may and will 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 many of us back? What hinders us from being more intentional to love a stranger, neighbor, co-worker, or even a family member? Fear, apathy, insecurity, lack of knowledge, busyness . . . even selfishness comes to mind. As a result, we pass by divine opportunities everyday. Yet, the “Good Samaritan” in Luke 10:25-37 didn’t pass by the stranger.

A compassionate man noticed, stopped, and tangibly cared for a wounded “stranger” in need. And he doesn’t walk away after his initial act of kindness. This Samaritan goes the extra mile and provides 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—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.

"If ever this nation needed to see real love lived out, it is now."

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 coffee and start a friendship. We can read to the elderly, mentor a teenager, mow a neighbor’s lawn, even do a free car wash for the neighborhood. Look around you. Who do you see on a regular basis? 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 feel no pressure. We don’t have the power to save people—only Christ does. And 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 our service builds a bridge and opens the door to share our Jesus. All He’s looking for is our availability, willingness, and prayers of faith. Be intentional. Even sacrificial enough to go the extra mile . . . then trust God to move!

If ever this nation needed to see real love lived out, it is now. And not just during the holiday season, but all year round. Every day and every year till Christ comes back. Our lost and wounded world is searching—searching for something authentic and tangible, 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) May we as Christ followers be the brave and sacrificial ones willing to go the extra mile and 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 pass them by.

“Little children, 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)

If you are looking for ways to get involved in outreach, you can serve with our teams in a number of ways!

Love Your Neighbor: Thanksgiving FoodShare Outreach
Saturday November 18, 9am–1pm | Meet in the Banquet Halls (Fort Lauderdale Campus)

Make this Thanksgiving special for hundreds of struggling families all over our community. Together we’ll deliver food boxes with all the makings of a Thanksgiving meal, along with tangible love to those who need to know God sees them and cares. Register here! 

Love Your Neighbor: Bring Christmas to the Elderly
Saturday December 2, 9am–1pm | Meet in the CalvaryFTL Outreach Room (Fort Lauderdale Campus)

Express God's great love and care for the widow, the lonely, and the aging as we visit local convalescent homes with the joy of Christmas! Join a special group of carolers as we seek to bring Christ's tangible love through song and sharing His heart.

For more info about these outreaches, or to learn more about God's heart for people, e-mail Lysa McMillan.