Jesus’ greatest command is for Christians to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
We see images of destruction caused by natural disasters and are dismayed by the loss. Homes are destroyed. Families are left with nothing. Prompted by love, we extend a hand by offering financial support or materials goods to help those in need. Some are even willing to travel long distances to help pick up the pieces.
Are these demonstrations the type of love Christ is looking for, or is He calling on Christians to do something more?
In this growing impersonal and materialistic world being enveloped by today’s technology, perhaps Christians have lost touch on what Christ means to love our neighbor.
Love prompts us to carry out acts of service. Christians ought to be first in line to help people in need. Love prompts us to relieve physical suffering, but there is a far greater act of loving our neighbor as ourselves that God demonstrated to the world.
It was sacrificial love that God sent his one and only Son into this world – to die for us, to be our substitute. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
Love prompts us to risk our lives and rescue people from dangerous situations, but Jesus came for a far different reason. God did not send his son so people can have material possessions, live comfortably, or be rescued from tyranny. Jesus died and held out his hand to rescue people from their sins. And people rejected Him for that. He was not the Messiah they were expecting or looking for.
What type of “Messiah” are Christians more comfortable trying to be? We are more prone to be a political Messiah to ease physical needs rather than a suffering Savior who calls people to repentance.
We can be fearless in providing food and clothing, but fearful in sharing a message of salvation.
We can be bold in bringing physical relief, but timid in proclaiming eternal truth.
“..to be a successful evangelist is not all about incorporating good ideas, initiating programs or learning techniques. It is about manifesting the power of the Holy Spirit that emphasizes the spiritual gifts God has given to each of us, clarifying our identity in Christ, and remaining in His presence through the power of His Word.” (Twelve Things that Successful Evangelists Do.)
Displaying the love of Christ is a fruit of His Spirit. It is evidence of a Christian believer who is rooted in Christ. It’s a demonstration of His presence in this world and a testimony to the power of His Word. Love is something that successful evangelists do.
Yet, there is a delicate balance between demonstrating the love of Christ and proclaiming the love of Christ. We can love, but not proclaim. Or, we can proclaim and not love.
In my years of experience in cross-cultural ministry, there comes a point in time — a critical juncture — that after weeks, months, or even years of building a bridge of trust, they will look into your eyes to see if I am being sincere or if am I trying to take advantage of them. It is at that moment where I have been earned the right to cross over the bridge of trust and share the gospel to listening ears.
God gives us a three ingredient recipe to be successful evangelists. [Taking Ownership of Grace] They will speak the truth that is prompted by love and concern for the soul. Demonstrations of love is one of those ingredients that God mixes together with truth and speak. If one of these ingredients are forgotten or not used, it ruins the whole recipe.
No, it is not enough for a Christian to be a humanitarian, nor is it the role of an evangelist to meet people’s needs. To fully love our neighbor means to share the message of salvation and rescue them from the eternal consequences of sin.