As important as changing our minds and our thinking is, it is just as if not more essential that we change our hearts for the purpose of mission.
We have been talking about the importance of every follower of Jesus establishing missional habits and rhythms in their lives. (Click here to read why missional rhythms are so important).
If we want to be effective in mission it is going to have to come from a heart full of love. What is your motivation for mission? Is it to grow your youth group or church, or to be seen as a “great Christian?” None of these motives suffice. Only love does.
Love for all people should define Christians. Our love for a missionary God grows our love for our neighbor. It should be a natural byproduct. We need to ask ourselves, “if we fail to love our neighbor, do we really love our God?”
We need to ask ourselves, “if we fail to love our neighbor, do we really love our God?”
When Jesus was asked by a teacher of the law what the most important commandment was he replied,
The most important one…is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.Mark 12:28-31
Our love for God and our love for others should define us as followers of Jesus. Sadly, this is not the reputation that is often heard of Christians. “Hypocrites,” “gossips,” “self-righteous,” and other negative descriptions are more often heard especially among those far from Jesus. This ought not be so. We should be known for our love for our neighbors.
When Jesus was asked who our “neighbor” is, he replied with a story we often refer to as “The Good Samaritan.”
The parable illustrates a simple truth: God expects us to love everyone! Even our enemies (Matthew 5:44)! If we don’t love others we handicap our missional effectiveness.
If we don’t love others we handicap our missional effectiveness.
Would non-Christians in your life say that you love them?
There is a reason that children wanted to be around Jesus. He loved them! He showed interest in them, he laughed with them, he probably played with them! They wanted to be around him and he said “let the little children come to me!” (Matthew 19:14)
There is a reason the worst sinners of the day would feast with Jesus and not be afraid to approach him; he was loving.
This does not mean that Jesus did not speak the truth. But he always spoke the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Even at the end of His life, as he was crucified and mocked, he exclaimed, “Father, forgive them!” (Luke 23:34) This must have come from a heart full of unconditional love.
Do you love those far from Jesus? How do you show this love?
An easy way to show love is simply by being a friend. Do you have friends far from Jesus? Are there non-Christians who would text or call you when they need help? Do those God has placed in your life know that you care about them?
Perhaps the first step in living missionally for you today is to show love to someone. Who knows where that might lead?
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.John 13:35