Ever wonder why some churches in America can have lots of baptisms, fund missionaries around the world, and yet hold on to negative and hurtful views of others? I had my own “East Texas” view of life I had to deal with as I grew up, engaged the world, and began to work with others. I realized that whatever I felt towards one group, invariably gave me permission to feel negative about another group, as long as I could justify it. There’s always a reason to think why you’re better than someone else, no matter what color or class you come from. Justifying prejudice always leads to an “us” and “them” mentality that Jesus firmly stood against. The root of all love we have towards others is based at the foot of the cross where Jesus died for all, and we are all family. Until you can value all people equally, you will not love like Jesus. Life will fill you with opportunities to come close to people that you don’t like as much, or have a conflict with and in those moments we have a chance to address the darkness in our hearts. That darkness is the absence of God in our inability to love others as he loves.Ever wonder why some churches in America can have lots of baptisms, fund missionaries around the world, and yet hold on to negative and hurtful views of others? Why do we not see justice as the Great Commission? Click To Tweet
The reality is we need each other – it’s the way God made us as human beings. Prejudice is denying God’s creativity in all humanity and shunning what he made. It’s a statement, not just another person, against God and what and who he loves and made. Why do we not see justice as the Great Commission?
First, we have a very narrow view of salvation and reconciliation. God came as Jesus to reconcile all things and all peoples. Colossians 1 is critical to understanding reconciling all peoples and all things and all dominion. It is the practical view of what the Great Commission looks like lived out. We preach the Gospel of salvation instead of the Gospel of the kingdom. We view salvation as the be all and end all of ministry. Jesus didn’t preach a gospel that said, “Get saved” and it’s ok to hold on to sin. It isn’t. Accepting Jesus is not life’s ultimate decision with God, it is only the first decision that opens up a life to countless other decisions about following him. You can’t accept Jesus without accepting his kingdom and the entire Gospels from the Sermon on the Mount to the parables. This is a radically different way of living and loving that is radically different than any other way or any other religion. It’s one that loves, serves, and sacrifices, in every area of life. Where the Gospel firmly takes root there has been a phenomenon called “redemption & lift”. Not only do people accept Jesus, but it changes how they view life and impacts the lifestyle of believers and those around them. There’s a big market for people who want to accept Jesus, become moral, but not really change that much – but it’s not the Gospel. You can grow a gathering, but not the church doing that.The root of all love we have towards others is based at the foot of the cross where Jesus died for all. Until you can value all people equally, you will not love like Jesus. Click To Tweet
Second, we live and allow ourselves to be more at home in the culture of our context more than the kingdom of God. We form God in our community instead of letting God form our community. We don’t see it as the same, not just because of our understanding of the kingdom but because of our rejection of God’s kingdom for our current cultural context. The kingdom of God challenges the status quo. The kingdom of God doesn’t ignore wrong. The Kingdom loves, serves, protects, and is there for everyone.
Third, we have professionalized all “religious” engagement. We have so specialized how we fulfill the Great Commission that it requires clerics and specialists trained in doing that, instead of disciples that live it on a daily basis. Preachers think about sermons and church planters think about starting churches – and that’s fine, but it’s not enough. Every disciple who is present in every part of society must live out their faith, and when they do, it impacts law, health, communication, education, etc. The Great Commission will not be fulfilled any other way. Twentieth-century missiology focused on turning our preachers and missionaries. Twenty-first-century missiology serious about the Great “Completion” will focus on making global disciples in every church.
Fourth, we want to change others with the Gospel but see little need for our own changing. I’ve come to the conclusion that I live in need of constant conversion. I grew up thinking once you accepted Jesus, you got it all, you converted and now you lived it out. I believe when we accept Jesus we “convert” as much as we see or know at that moment. I’m not saying salvation is not instantaneous when we give our life to God. I am saying, no one is instantly mature or totally surrendered – this is why we must have grace or there is no hope for anyone, me most of all. But, as we are filled more and more with God’s Spirit, and as we encounter things in our life, we realize areas to grow, old thinking patterns to be challenged. I know people don’t always understand it when I say this, but the world actually helped me find Jesus. I approached the world with Jesus in my heart thinking I had it all and that was enough, I have found there is much changing that has had to take place in me. True conversion leads to repentance. We Christians are great at talking about what Jesus says or what we should believe. It isn’t enough. The question is, when Jesus invades our life, what will we do? So, with reference to race – who will argue that Jesus loves all, we should love all, let’s all be friends . . . it isn’t enough. How are you intentionally diversifying your church? That’s a different answer for each church, but it demands a response from each church. THIS is how we will change. I’ve learned preach-a-thons change little. Consistent, repetitive action changes a lot.
Fifth, we go after teardrops when we should be going after life transformation. I’m a guy who can weep easily – I’m sorry to say, especially being from East Texas! Tears are good for certain things, divine pauses of embracing moments that leads to water flow! I learned a long time ago, tears don’t show where you are with God, but merely the reflection of where a person is at that moment in the realizing of how far away from God they are. A broken and contrite heart before God is merely the first step. I grew up with lots of “meetings” where people “repented” and there was a lot of emotion, only for them to be back at the altar crying over the previous week. What was going on? I learned repentance isn’t just a condition of the heart but a movement of the feet. Confession is a statement of fact, an agreement of where you are at the moment. Repentance is walking out what you know you should. I learned long ago, those who cried the most when they came forward would be back next week. We have confession without repentance and the result is broader than just our heart, but it affects how we live in society. Jesus’ call was very clear, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Repent, was Jesus’ word. Change, walk in a new direction. We have “confess” as the core. The only time Jesus used the word confess in the Gospels was to confess he was God, not confess your sins. Paul in Romans viewed confession as confessing who Jesus was. Don’t hear me saying you shouldn’t confess your sins! Jesus came to forgive. The word forgive was used more by Jesus than anyone else in the entire Bible. Yes, it was forgiveness of “specific” sin, but even more than that – forgiveness for fallen humanity and being sinful beings. Sin is not just what I do, but it is core to who I am without Jesus. He redefines me into a new creation, a new love, a new being.
“Look how they love” should be the defining characteristic of followers of Jesus. When it is, we will love all people – and the world will see it, and want it.“Look how they love” should be the defining characteristic of followers of Jesus. When it is, we will love all people – and the world will see it, and want it. Click To Tweet
But how do we love boldly? What does it look like to love your neighbor or even your enemies? What does a world look like where people of other religions hold on to their faith while engaging with people who have many different views of the world? These questions have led me to have deep conversations with people from around the world, and I would love to share what I’ve learned along this uncommon path. Take a listen to my Bold Love podcast available on most podcast platforms as we journey down a path of risky, bold love by modeling conversations.