Loving People Enough to be Hated

Monday is for Discussion

A day after Easter is a good time to think not just about resurrection joy, but Christian faithfulness in light of the extraordinary lavishness of God’s grace and love for us.

Evangelism is not only done by individuals, but is a function of the body working together to show the beauty of the faith in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-3). When the world sees us loving one another in this way, Jesus’ words in John 13:35 are fulfilled. They see that we love one another and conclude that we truly belong to Jesus. The reality, the inescapability of what the unbelieving world sees in the quality of our love for one another, points them to Christ. 

It points them to Jesus, but it does not introduce them to Jesus or to the message of the gospel. For that, the mouth of a believer must open with the words of life.

A believer must take the risk of proclaiming the offense of the cross for someone to believe (Romans 10:14). We have to proclaim the data points of the gospel, (1 Corinthians 15:1-7; Mark 1:14-15).  No amount of good works and friendliness is a substitute for the actual proclamation of the good news. And we must go to our neighbors. We can’t just wait for them to come to us. In this, we must follow the example of our Master.

Jesus was God in the flesh from heaven, come to live with men on earth, and he came that great distance “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Now, as it is the nature of Christianity that our God sought men, so it must be the nature of those who follow Christianity to seek men. We do not wait for men to come to our churches—that’s religion. We go after them in the love of him who came from heaven on a seeking and saving mission. . . .

The nature of Christianity asks not, “Why won’t you come to my meeting?” It asks instead, “Why haven’t I gone to my neighbor?” Jesus came to us. We follow his lead and go to others.[1]

We do not love a man or a woman the way God wants us to love him (or her) until we are willing to love him enough to risk his ire by telling him the truth. “Human love is directed to the other person for his own sake, spiritual love loves him for Christ’s sake.”[2] Atheist Penn Jillete of the comedy magic team Penn and Teller got it right in in his Youtube video, “How much do you have to hate someone to not tell them about Jesus if you believe that not knowing Jesus condemns them to hell?” The world needs churches that will proclaim the gospel with passion from its pulpits and from its people.

You’ll have to go to Youtube directly to see this video.

Let’s pray that God would give us the kind of boldness, humility and compassion that risks more for the gospel.

[1] Bailey Smith, Real Evangelism, Revised Edition, (Nashville, Tenn.: Word Publishing, 1999), 42-43. [2] Dietrich Bonhoeffer,Life Together, translated with an introduction by John W. Doberstein, (San Francisco, Calif.: Harper-Collins, 1954), 34.

Revised and re-posted 3-31-13

5 thoughts on “Loving People Enough to be Hated

  1. “The nature of Christianity asks not, “Why won’t you come to my meeting?” It asks instead, “Why haven’t I gone to my neighbor?” Jesus came to us. We go to others”……Amen brother! In the flesh why would someone who doesn’t know Jesus get up early, take their kids out of the sport they do, not spend the morning lazily reading the papers, not go car-booting, step out of their “man-made” comfort zone etc etc etc? We’ve got to get up off our backsides, step out of OUR comfort zones and take the Gospel out. Because that’s His will, and His will should be our only comfort zone.

    Thinking about living out our lives with Gospel intentionality, being accountable within Gospel communities and showing the world a most excellent way of living. Been blessed by your words and Steve Timmis’ words also:

    “Church is dynamic, it’s the people of God, they’ve been called by the gospel to live under the reign of Christ in the power of the Spirit who love one another, serve one another, share their lives together, and do so openly before the world so that non-Christians might see, and be intrigued and enticed, by this gospel community living out this gospel word.”

    “We also take seriously Gospel community in a way that, traditionally, confessional evangelicals haven’t. Gospel community is a group of people who are being rescued by King Jesus and who live as His subjects together to demonstrate to the world what a great King He is. So, Gospel community is a demonstrating community: it demonstrates the nature of the Kingdom of God, the nature of Jesus’s rule.”

    Let’s go out there into our communities and live lives that entice for the Gospel!!


  2. Fran, Amen. Let’s stop waiting for the world to come to us. Let’s go love on some people and love them enough to tell them the truth of the gospel. Love Steve Timmis’ stuff.


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