Everyone at our leaders’ conference sat in stunned silence as the young college student shared these words. Nancy was coming regularly to a Second group at the Univ. of North Texas. She told us how she studied the Bible with the others in the group, and even made commitments about how she was going to do what it said. But she freely admitted that she still was wrestling with whether to put her faith in Christ, particularly because of some of her lifestyle decisions.
So when asked why she was involved in the group, even though she was not sure she believed what was being discussed, Nancy said, “Why wouldn’t I want to go where I feel loved? I’m not against Christ, I’m just not sure about Him.”
How many other people around us are like that? Just waiting for someone to show enough interest to engage them in the conversation?
“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” – Paul
Wait a minute. “We loved you so much“… Now there’s a new way of looking at it (for me anyway). I always have this idea in my head that the love I show others comes directly from my love from God. My love from God compels me to share His love with others. I still wouldn’t say that’s wrong… but maybe it’s incomplete. Should it be my love for God and my love for others that brings me to the point of sharing the gospel? And not only the gospel—but my life as well. For Paul to share his life with someone, it meant he was spending time with them in community—living with them, eating with them, and serving with them. How often do we make that next step of truly investing not just a conversation, but authentic and substantial time with a person? We should be taking delight in these things out of our love for our neighbors. But fundamentally, do we love our neighbors? Think about those who we’re called to love. (This would be everyone—friend and foe alike). Do we truly love them? Now, if we love them, shouldn’t we invest in them both through sharing the gospel with them, and then by following up with them through quality time?
The challenge is pretty self evident here, but I’ll lay it out just in case. Examine your relationships. 1) Do you love your neighbors? 2) If you love them, are you showing them genuine love? 3) If you’re showing them genuine love, are you showing them Christ? 4) If you’re showing them Christ, are you continuing to love them by investing in them?
I of course am not suggesting that you beat anyone over the head with a Bible, but I think it’s important that we show an authentic compassion and love for people through actions and quality time so that the faith that we share doesn’t stand alone. Then we, like Paul, can show others our love.