We walked into church late today (God’s weekly marital growth opportunity for me to love my wife by keeping silent while glaring at my watch). Our pastor, Josh Kouri (also a SALLT grad) was just beginning the sermon. It was all about how we engage community as believers. It was how we as Christians be missional by loving our community. My, my, what a coincidence considering my car rant (see SALLT Blog March 15, 2014)…
The text was from I John 4:7-11 (NKJ):
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Josh’s subtheme was that as Christians, loving our community fails when it is sentimental, situational and selfish at its heart. When all we are is a church that just sends out “good vibes” to our community, but does not take action to redeem it, it is not love, we are mere well-wishers. When we look askance from our holy huddles at our community problems and are not known as solution bringers, this is not an authentic, genuine love.
God loved us so He actually sent Someone to address our problem. He sent Jesus. Because God so loved the world (John 3:16), God took the initiative and pursued us, even though we were not pursuing Him. He still loves us despite ourselves, despite the fact that we rebel against Him, despite the fact that we do despicable things, despite the fact that we don’t deserve anything other than wrath (His sole attribute is not love, He is also holy). His is not a cheap, sentimental affection from afar, cheering us on like some god of pom-poms, but an on-the-field engagement in every aspect of life. Jesus demonstrated what true love looks like. He loved us enough to get His hands both dirty and bloody.
For us as Christians to become change agents to our community, we must get both dirty and bloody. As Josh said, perhaps the gangs on the south side won’t even listen to us until one of us dies for them. Sure, there are many Christians that engage just like that, but sadly, they are the Christian footnote, not the overarching Christian narrative. For us to have standing to speak our opinions to a skeptical world, we must be known for loving like God. For us to influence the cultural thought of this community, we must be known for loving like God. So, when we will we observe a new, robust and redemptive Christian narrative become manifest to our culture?
When we have become known for loving like God.
New Heavens, New Earth
(written as a gift to SALLT)
Music and Lyrics by:
©2015 Kyle Dillingham, LLC