February 2018 Blog Theme: Living on Mission
Sharing the Gospel is motivated by love.
Jesus came to earth because of our desperate need, but He also was compelled by His deep love for you and me. Love is what drove Him to the cross.
Take a moment to reflect on the words Jesus shared with Nicodemus during their nighttime conversation, “God so loved the world that he gave …,” (John 3.16 ESV).
There is a strong connection between the words “love” and “gave.” Any parent who loves his or her child will gladly give up anything to make sure that child is safe and cared for. Any husband who loves his wife, gives to meet her needs.
There is a strong connection between loving and giving. It was God’s incredible love for you that caused Him to give up His own Son to die on a rugged Roman cross. It was God’s inconceivable and unrelenting love that compelled Him to offer His one and only son as a sacrifice for you and me.
It has been said that love is the strongest emotion. It is greater than hate and stronger than fear. Love overcomes and overpowers them all. It was God’s love that overcame our sin and our waywardness, and made a way for us to be right with Him again. God the Father exemplified true love.
When you look at the life of Jesus, you see that He also demonstrated true love. Throughout Scripture, we are told that Jesus was filled with compassion (Matthew 9.36, 14.14, 20.34; Mark 1.41, 6.34, 8.2; John 11.33 ESV). It was incredibly obvious that in Jesus’ mind, people mattered. While the religious elites saw people on the margins as invisible and expendable, Jesus saw them as real people who had real needs and who were really valuable to God.
Jesus spent much of His time with the “down and out” in His society — the socially outcast, the physically disabled and the spiritually troubled. No one was beyond the reach of His love. On one occasion, as Jesus was speaking of going to the cross, He told His disciples, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” (John 15.13 NLT).
Love compelled Jesus to embrace the cross. Love drew Him there, and love held Him there. That’s how much God loves you. In fact, He loves you so much that nothing can ever separate you from His love (Romans 8.38-39 ESV).
Now, if Jesus was motivated by love to bring hope to a broken world, then love needs to be our motivation as well. So, let me ask you an important question. How much do you love people far from God? Do you love them enough to share with them the one thing that matters most?
Many years ago we had a neighbor who lost his house to a fire. I remember seeing smoke in the distance on my way home from work. I thought to myself, “Someone’s house must be on fire. Wow, that’s terrible! I hope someone helps them.” I was concerned, but not moved to action. As I drew closer, I began to notice that this fire was in my neighborhood! My heart started racing and my thoughts were spinning, “What if it’s my house? What if my family is inside?” Suddenly, I was motivated to action. Why? Because my concern was for the people I love.
Listen, it’s easy to believe that people are lost and facing hell without Christ and think, “Wow, that’s terrible. I hope someone will help them.” It is easy to be concerned but still unmotivated to act. When that reality comes close to home, to the people you love, the people you work with and the people you do life with, the urgency begins to surge! With that urgency comes the motivation to do something about it.
The Apostle Paul was motivated by love. Next to Jesus, I can’t think of a man who was more compelled to share the Gospel than Paul. If you were to ask him point-blank, “Paul, what motivated you to share the Gospel of Jesus, even in the face of tremendous suffering?” I think he would reply with one word, “Love.” Look at what he wrote to the church in Corinth.
“Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. … For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God,” (2 Corinthians 5.11; 14-21 NIV)
Paul starts off making it clear that Christ’s love is his driving motivation. He said, “Christ’s love compels us.” Paul was absolutely convinced that Jesus Christ died for sinners, and He was the only way to be reconciled to God. Salvation was found in no one else (Acts 4.12 ESV).
Paul admits that earlier in his life he looked at people from a worldly point of view. He only thought about people from the perspective of this world — where they lived, what they did for a living, what they had accomplished in life. But now he saw people from an eternal perspective. He pictured every person as someone headed into eternity.
This radical shift in perspective completely changed the way Paul lived. He no longer lived for himself or his own goals and dreams, but he was completely consumed with God’s mission of reaching as many people as he could with the Gospel. That is why he made the bold declaration, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors.” Every ambassador is sent on a mission to live in a foreign country and to represent a higher authority. In the same way, we have a mission — to live in a culture far from God, and to reflect His love and grace to people who are desperate for hope.
In fact, Paul said that when he talked to someone about Christ, it was actually God Himself speaking through him, pleading with that person to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20 ESV). Every ambassador is empowered to speak on behalf of his authority; his words are to be taken as the very words of the One he is called to serve. Every time you open your mouth and speak about Jesus, God is doing the same through you. Your words become His. The Spirit speaks through you, pleading for people to turn back to God.
Think about it. God has sent you as His ambassador to your neighborhood. He has sent you as His ambassador to your workplace. He has sent you as His ambassador to your school, your ball club, your professional organization. He has sent you there to love these people as He loves them and to share the Gospel with them.
The most powerful force on earth is God’s love. It was God’s love for this world that motivated Him to send His Son, and it is God’s love in you, that will motivate you to share the hope you have with the people in your life.
Written by Craig Etheredge This blog is an excerpt that comes from our book Reach Your World, which you can purchase here.