(I apologize for the length of this post, but felt it all needed to be kept in.)
THE LAW OF LOVE
THE STARTING POINT OF EFFECTIVE OUTREACH IS NOT A SYSTEM, A PROGRAM, OR A SPECIFIC PRESENTATION. IT IS A HEART DEEPLY IN LOVE WITH GOD AND WITH PEOPLE. WITHOUT LOVE, NO OUTREACH STRATEGY WILL WORK. WITH GOD’S LOVE WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD.
(Kevin G. Harney in “Organic Outreach for Ordinary People”)
It is exciting when we have the opportunity to meet people, whether by our plan or by Divine Appointment, and share the love of Jesus Christ with them, through actions and words.
Each person is a creation of God, and because he / she is a creation of God, respect needs to be shown to that person in speaking to him and in how we act towards him.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Regardless of where the person is in life, and what their actions indicate, God loves them, and has a plan for their lives.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: ~to an unknown god. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
Everyone who we meet has set themselves a god that they worship and serve, whether they know and admit it or not. The god they serve may be booze, drugs, “good” times, things, other people, or a variety of things. Some people set themselves up as their own god, as they do whatever pleases themselves at all times.
One of my favourite Old Testament characters is Caleb. He is always raring to go. His quotes are precious, and the jist of them I claim as they are in Joshua 14:10-12
“Now then, just as the Lord promised, He has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time He said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakiites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as He said.”
The ages are different, and the battle is different, as my battle is not a physical war, but I am just as strong today, spiritually, even stronger, than over 30 years ago when the Lord called me to serve Him and to go against the enemy in his various forms.
As was mentioned earlier, the patience and grace that our Lord Jesus has extended to me is so great, that I need to extend the same to others. Many question why time is spent over and over again with some who keep falling back into their old ways of life, but each of these friends has value, and it takes time to change when they have bondages holding them. Many desire to change, but something has a grip on them. In some cases our Lord will give release instantly, but in many instances it takes time, and it takes work to change and be released from a substance abuse that has been going on for years.
R.B. is a case in point. The first time R.B. was met, he was drunk and in a church service drinking alcohol from a Tim Horton coffee cup. When he began to get loud and mouthy during the service, I asked him to go outside with me for a while. R.B. willingly went outside and we chatted for a period of time, and he ended up crying and saying he wants to change but is unable. During the recent 6-7 years now, we have met and chatted often. R.B. goes through periods of time when he does not drink or use drugs at all, then he will fall again and go on a binge for 1-2 weeks. Quite often as those binges are ending, he will phone, and we will talk, and he feels really bad for what he has been doing. He is much better now than a few years ago, but is still a work in progress.
R.S. is another friend who has struggled with booze and drugs over the years. He was living on the streets, sleeping in a tent in an alley for quite a while, but currently is in an apartment on his own. Periodically he still falls into his old life style, and will sometimes get into a fight, but is working at changing and becoming a stronger follower of Jesus Christ.
W.K. has been homeless since about 1983. He had a family and a good career. Some problems arose in his family, and his wife and kids left. W.K. was unable to hold himself and everything together on his own, so he gave up on life and took to the streets. He will usually sleep on park benches in the good weather. Due to his temper, and outbursts, he has been banned from many shelters, so in the cold weather he will find an apartment stair well to sleep in, a bank lobby, or try to stay at various Tim Horton’s for the night and sleep during the day.
If we do not show patience and love to friends like these, and if we allow them to continue on by themselves, and with friends who will not care for them at all, we are not showing the love of our Lord Jesus.
Many people are crying for help through their actions if not by words. If we take the time to watch and listen, and pay attention, we will see the various ways that people are hurting. We can’t solve everyone’s problems instantly, but we can make a difference in a person’s life. By listening to someone, we show that we care, and that they are important. Many people believe that no one cares for them, so it doesn’t matter what they do. According to Proverbs we are honouring God when we are kind to those in need. Also it is stated in Proverbs that if we do not listen to the cries of the poor, we will not be heard when we cry out.
God has called us to be available to serve others, and to speak as He leads us. He has given us His Word to guide us, and His Spirit to empower us. As we submit ourselves to our God each day, He will speak into our lives, and He will direct us to the Divine Appointments He has prepared for us. He will give us the words to speak, and will enable us to hear what others are really saying, even if their words do not express their thoughts and feelings. We have the opportunity to speak Life into many people’s lives that possibly have never been encouraged or uplifted by anyone. Jesus is Life, and we have the awesome privilege and responsibility to share His Life with others, as He leads us.
Doing something new and different can always make one a little nervous. In Isaiah 54:2 we read that we are to enlarge the place of our tent and stretch our tent curtains wide. We also are to lengthen our cords and strengthen our stakes.
We are to expand our lives and let others in through the opened curtains. God will give guidance and strength for what He would have us do, because He has called us. Strengthening our stakes could mean being more grounded in God’s Word so that whatever comes our way, we are prepared for.
In Isaiah 58:5-11 we are told that God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts not our thoughts. How well we know that. As we serve God and serve others, we see that His way of doing things is so much better. God’s Word has come to each of us in various ways, at various times, but when guided by His Spirit, the Truth is seen. God’s Word is powerful and God’s purpose will be served as He will find people who will go and do as He directs.