Before I became a Christian, loving others was difficult and I was aware of it. I wanted to love people but didn’t’ seem to have the wherewithal to do it. I can remember a day shortly after Christ came into my life. I was sitting on my front step in the sunshine, joyful in the fact that I now knew at least what it felt like to care about other people.
Of course it takes a lifetime to learn how best to express the love of God. For me, a major part of that is rooted in restoring those who have strayed by showing them and reminding them that His love is still there and always will be.
I’m also drawn to the prophets in the Old Testament, particularly Jeremiah and Isaiah. While they preached a strong judgment message, their hearts were filled with the desire to restore the people of God to the vibrant relationship they once had.
“Now the Lord says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him — for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord, and my God has become my strength . . . .” (Isaiah 49:5)
Isaiah began life with an inner desire to set things right. I understand that desire. In an unsaved person, such a longing for rightness and justice will be worldly and often misdirected. Yet after faith in Christ and regeneration, this desire becomes directed to the will of God. Those who have it are often black and white in their judgments, often misunderstood, but have a deep passion that the people of God live like the people of God are supposed to live. While stern, this passion is an expression of God’s love.
With such a strong desire for righteousness, we are also hard on ourselves. We see our sin and hate it. This does not mean an extra ability to live a godly life, but it does mean a great deal of introspection and beating myself up if I do not keep a solid focus on the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that apart from Him I am nothing and can do nothing, but in Him, I can do all things.
Chambers points out the changes in the life of someone who is called to be God’s servant. He sees the Lord’s great purpose for humanity as being created by God and for God — to glorify and enjoy Him forever.
While this is true, I’m reading another book which points to a different view. The author of “The Gospel and Pluralism” says that we are created and called by God to tell the world His story, the story of creation, sin, and redemption in Christ, culminating with His return and eternal bliss. Our task is not so much about enjoying God as it is about sharing Him with others in our deeds and sometimes our words.
This author points out the lack of commands in the New Testament for evangelism, and the fact that people were drawn to Christ by the changed lives of His followers. Then they wanted to know what was going on and why, and the disciples shared with them the good news about Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection, and His promise to return.
The emphasis is a story that is passed from one generation to the next, just as cultural values are passed, and we who live now must be faithful to tell those who come after us, so they can do the same. In this way, God is revealing the Kingdom that began with the advent of Christ but was largely hidden. As those first followers displayed kingdom living, more people were drawn to Him, and when that happened, more of what God’s kingdom is like could be seen.
This author also points out that the more God’s people live out the truth of His kingdom, the greater the opposition. This happens personally and corporately. But it is living out truth that attracts others to find out what we have, what I have, that brings them to the Cross. We don’t go after their throats telling them to “turn or burn” but we go after our own godliness, sacrificing our own plans to be people of the grand story of God, passing it on as we can and trusting God to do what He wills with our witness.
Chambers ends with, “Beware lest you forget God’s purpose for your life” which to me is too close to a “turn or burn” statement. God calls me to this purpose and in my experience He will never let me forget it!