The following is from the R U ministry blog from our church. It is a great article and I want to challenge you to read it and also to go and subscribe to the blog. God bless you Jonathan! You are a blessing!
Is your love conditional or based on a personâ€™s race, looks or stature in life?
Sunday evening had us finishing a 4-night missionâ€™s conference at Vision and what a mix of emotions it was. I canâ€™t see how anyone could have sat through the messages brought by these men and not felt the tug of the Spirit on them in some way. Be that as it may, I thought I might share how it went close to home and touched me.
First let me say that like many folks living in the United States of America, I live a life that is comfortable, even with the recent economic challenges weâ€™ve seen lately. Well comfort breeds complacency and with that said, itâ€™s human nature that I like most folks; try to avoid placing myself in situations where Iâ€™m uncomfortable. As a for instance we were going to a Braves game and couldnâ€™t park in one of the adjacent lots so we had to park on one of the back road side streets where the neighborhood was letâ€™s say â€œless than safeâ€ feeling with folks walking by that were obviously challenged with drug, alcohol or other addictions & challenges. Sure, anyone who knows my story knows that I learned early on how to raise what I call â€œsituational awarenessâ€ but still, I felt uneasy about being around â€œthoseâ€ type of people.
STOP! Think about what I just said. How often do you do that? How often have we all felt like turning away from that destitute person or addicted individual because they were not â€œlike usâ€ in some way? Well that couldnâ€™t be further from the truth, especially in my case. Where was I before the Lord took me into his family? How can I possibly be placing myself on some pillar to look down on someone else but yet I (we) do that without even realizing it far too often.
Now Iâ€™m not saying we foolishly put ourselves in harms way but I am saying that we have a heart for people that are stricken with sin in their lives and realize they need Jesus just as much if not more than we did. In Matthew 28:19 the Lord gave us all the great commission â€“ Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Unless my Bible has a misprint, I see that it says ALL nations, meaning ALL people, including those weâ€™d normally walk the other way from when they shuffle past us on the street.
Let me share with you that I felt so convicted from hearing Chris Gartner preach that I had to do a head and heart check because I too suffer from not wanting to get out of my comfort zone. Oh sure I say, Iâ€™m not called to preach so those fellows doing missions work, putting themselves at peril in some cases on the foreign field, giving up the comforts of home â€“ well, they were called by God to do those things and not me right? Wrong! I of all people should remember that I was nothing more than a pathetic sinner raised in a family of sinners on my way to a devilâ€™s hell until the day when someone took a chance and befriended me. He explained why it was that I couldnâ€™t totally â€œbreak the cycleâ€ of sin in my familyâ€™s history by just abstaining. That my friend, only got me so far and often led to what the secular world therapists call slippages which did nothing more than heighten the guilt I carried. In order to truly gain freedom over sin Iâ€™d have to call the specialist â€“ Jesus Christ, who without condition, willingly gave his life on a cross to pay my sin debt once and for all and who, if I do make mistakes wonâ€™t be there to condemn but to console me with the knowledge that my salvation is eternal. Forever.
Several years after I asked the Lord to be my savior I was on the phone with my older sister. She had recently gone through her latest round of clean up and was struggling with how best to stay sober and healthy. You see she was one of those rough looking people that often look kind of scary to us normal folk. A couple of decades earlier she had contracted AIDs from the use of needle sharing and was then trying to deal with the damage done in her life. Itâ€™s said that sometimes the hardest people to share the gospel with are those closest to you & those conversations we had were no different. At the time I could only throw out perhaps one or two things I had learned about Christ but pressed her to do her own spiritual inventory. To this day I have no idea who she spoke with but also have no doubt it was someone who took a chance, defied the fear of AIDs & the look she had and shared the gospel because Iâ€™m convinced now, years after, that she passedinto eternity knowing & being sure of her own salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
Thinking about all of this has me remembering how this week when Jake was preaching; he spoke about how Jesus was visiting with the Pharisee Simon and how He used the sinner women to teach us a valuable lesson (Luke 7:36-50). The lesson is that sin is sin and that there are no higher or lower levels of sin. To be dead in sin is still death regardless. Dead is dead right? I heard the Spirit speaking loud and clear to me that night and today through the Word: Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. (Luke 7:47)
Heaven help us all to be mindful of that truth so letâ€™s not forget that we were all dead in the same sin that ranks right up there with the worst of it. Personally I could stand to show a WHOLE lot more love based on how much I was forgiven. We need to love ALL people and have a heart to see missions work done at home through outreaches like Reformers Unanimous just as much as those works in other countries where weâ€™re spreading the Word.
God bless – Jonathan