Saturday, June 06, 2009

In the Name of Love

Hopefully the Church can get back to its roots:

Called to Serve
Trinity Jordan, pastor, Elevation Church, Layton, Utah

The two young Mormon missionaries stood there in my living room, wide eyed, pondering what they had just heard.

I decided to repeat myself to make sure they heard me correctly, “Yes, I would like very much to go through the missionary discussions. But, before we do, can we hang out three times without talking about your beliefs or my beliefs. Tonight we will order pizza, make some lemonade, and just chat.” They nodded as if they really didn’t speak my language.

The night passed as we dove into casual conversation of where we were from, what our interests were, and where we had been in life. The next meeting brought with it a trip to a local ice cream shop to continue our conversation. As we ate our ice cream and laughed at each other’s stories, I looked down at one of the Mormon missionaries’ shoes. They were completely ripped apart.

“What is up with your shoes, bro?”

“Well, I’ve been on my mission for 10 months now and I only brought with me one pair of shoes.”

“What size do you wear? I’m sure I’ve got an old pair of shoes in my closet that are better than those.”

I was secretly plotting at this point. I had learned from the previous week that his birthday was coming up. I could make our third meeting a birthday party, complete with a gift of shoes that he desperately needed.

The balloons were in place. The cake was made. The streamers hung from the ceiling. Friends of mine that I knew would be nice to these young missionaries were hiding all over my house. The doorbell rang. I answered the door.


As they walked into my house like two deer in headlights. I held out my present to my new Mormon missionary friend. He slowly opened the present. He stopped as he lifted the lid of the shoebox and stared at the new pair of shoes. “Why did you do this?”

“Cause I love you, man. You are my friend.”

“No, really, why did you do this?”

“Mama said you can learn a lot about a man by the shoes he wears, bro. I’m serious; I love you.”

The gospel story is a story of love. God’s love for us. God’s love in us. God’s love changing us and God’s love flowing out of us to transform the world.

John tells us that God is love. Paul says we have died to Christ and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us.

This means we have the most amazing love in the world living in us. A love that changes lives. A love unlike what anyone in the world can offer. A selfless, gracious love.

My job as a follower of Jesus is to love. This is the characteristic that defines me as a disciple. My love for others. My job isn’t to save anyone. But, rather to be a living witness for Jesus. The job of Savior of the World is filled and He is doing a great job. I’m terrible at it.

This is why people walk away hurt from our churches. We are doing jobs that are not ours to do and we neglect what we are supposed to do. Love people. People need to feel like they belong with us before they believe like us. By loving them we let the good news of the gospel penetrate their hearts. The good news is that Jesus gives us life and hope through what He did for us on the cross. This will lead to spiritual conversations of Jesus and the life that He offers to all.

I believe in the local church. Can you imagine what we could do if we always did our job of loving people we come into contact with? Pharisees would call us friends of sinners. The drunks and prostitutes would be welcomed into our church services feeling welcomed and ready to receive Christ’s offer of redemption.

We have gotten so disconnected from a dying world around us, we are trying to perfect methods of salvation instead of working on truly loving the people we come in contact with everyday. We harm those around us when we don’t do our job and try to do God’s job. You and I are not charged with convicting the world of sin—that’s the work of the Holy Spirit. Our task is to unconditionally love people.


Ray in AZ said...

Great post. Sometimes that simple prescription for demonstrating the love of Christ gets lost in all the other "stuff". Thanks!

Ron Ballew said...

You are most welcome.