Loving vs Leading

Our latest church message series has been focused on the topic of “Jesus Told Me To…” and you fill in the blank. This last message was Jesus told me to…honestly I forgot what it was all about. You know what I remember though? One line. One line our pastor said in passing while talking about the community outreach event our church helped organize and put on called “Love OKC One Day.”

Pastor Rodney was again pointing out the lives that were impacted by that day, 11,000+ honored guests walked through the doors and were show the kindness of strangers demonstrating the love of Jesus. Free food, hair cuts, family portraits, health screenings, GED sign up, job fair, kids bounce houses and a week’s worth of groceries and hygiene products. I was there volunteering…though I admit, my attitude about it wasn’t entirely right all the time. I was outside and I got hot and sunburned. Though I realized I had not come prepared to give 100% and thought I could skate by and just get my credit for being there. I was so wrong. Because when I heard the stories of the lives that were touched, I felt ashamed of my selfishness.

Back to my main point though…the pastor was talking about these honored guests and said that there were volunteers there to “love people to Jesus.”

Love people to Jesus.

That phrase struck me square in the chest. To be honest it was about the only thing I could think about for the entire message.

Growing up in a Southern Baptist church I know all about “leading people to Jesus.” Walk them down the “Romans Road.” Make sure to mention how hot Hell is every time someone mentions the weather during the summer. Invite them to the tent revival. While all those are good things and I know so many people that have found God through those old-fashioned methods, the phrase “love people to Jesus” still stuck out to me.

That’s one thing I struggle with is loving others and showing them the love of Christ. Love OKC wasn’t about pointing people to the door and saying have a good time with all the free stuff inside. It wasn’t even about making sure I had a smile on all day. It was about loving people. Yes I volunteered out of love…though my heart has an expiration date on it…and that’s about the time the clouds went away and the sun came out full blast (aren’t you glad you’re not in Hell right now?).

I think that’s what the world is missing anymore. Genuine love. Oh sure we can say we love our neighbors…but how many of us even know our actual neighbor’s names? For so many years I think the church has tried to complicate the message of Jesus. So many denominations and in fighting and squabbles over technicalities in the scripture when in reality, we all missed the first step. Love.

When asked what the greatest commandment was, He said it was to love the Lord your God with all your heart. Followed closely by loving your neighbor, which was explained through the story of the Good Samaritan.

An old church I went to had an awesome pastor who put the Gospel message like this: Love God, Love others, Serve everyone. North Church’s mission is Love God, Love People and Follow Jesus. Still it all starts with Love. God didn’t say Love the people who agree with you. He didn’t say Love the people who vote like you. He didn’t even say Love the people who are in your church. He said Love everyone. No exceptions.

That no exceptions part is hard for me. I meet a lot of people and I know a lot of people with widely different points of view from my personal beliefs. I have friends that post the most hateful comments about Christianity and God. I know people that would mock my belief in Jesus. Sometimes those things make me so mad I want to lash out, or engage them in debate…or take my Southern Baptist Bible and beat them until they meet Jesus either figuratively or literally.

I don’t get that option. I don’t even think I get to be mad at them…the Bible says to those who don’t know or don’t understand the way of the cross is foolishness. As much as some comments enrage me, I have to remember to love. I think if we all stepped back and just tried that one simple thing, the world just might be a better place. If there’s one thing we can do to change the world, it would be to put a little more love into it. Real love. Our church has several guiding principles, one of which is that we want to be known for what we’re for, not what we’re against. I want to be for loving people and serving them. Giving to the least of the world out of the abundance I’ve been blessed with.

I think I’m going to fail. In fact I know I’m going to fail over and over again because I’ll never be able to love like Jesus on this earth. But by the grace of God, I’ll try. Because He told me to.

Oh yeah….that was it. Jesus told me to follow. That was the sermon. I guess I remembered it after all