It’s Sunday morning and I find myself in the middle of the minister’s weekly dilemma. The Lord’s Day is the time when God’s children gather together for the express purpose of worshiping Jesus Christ. The ideal manifestation of this purpose would be for every single believer in a local assembly to arrive at the church house prayed up, full of the Holy Spirit, overflowing with gratitude, thrilled with the prospect of bringing an offering, rendering celebrational praise to God coupled with unhindered service unto one another. There would be moments of reflection, anthems of thankful praise, broken prayer and the declaration of truth. Though Sunday worship gatherings are geared primarily for believers, the ideal Sunday for me would also include repentant faith from the gracious offer of salvation through Christ. This is a potential template for every Sunday.
You say then, “Jeff, you mentioned a dilemma in the first sentence. What’s the problem?” Glad you asked. The problem for the vocational minister is that Sunday can often feel like the busiest workday of the week instead of the utmost worship day. The minister needs to learn what makes the difference.
Jesus Christ taught His followers that people would know that we are His when we live in love toward one another. Based on what we often see before us, one might think that Jesus had qualified His true disciples with something else. Maybe we have come to believe that Jesus said
“They will know you are my disciples by how busy you are serving Me.”
“They will know you are my disciples by how holy you appear.”
“They will know you are my disciples by how much money you give to the Kingdom.”
“They will know you are my disciples by which denomination you belong to.”
“They will know you are my disciples by your stand for the truth.”
Yet Jesus did not say any of these things. Nor did He use any of the other countless alternatives that we might have used had He not first submitted that Love was the predominant characteristic that would reveal us to belong to Him. My dilemma today is that I can preach an immaculate sermon, evangelize the unbeliever, sing with the zeal of the mighty angels, give three-quarters of my money to Kingdom work and master all of the do’s & don’t’s of morality…yet still be an inaccurate reflection of my Lord. That’s a sobering thought.
You see, Truth set me free in the Summer of 1994. I am enthralled with the revelation that there is absolute Truth by which I live. God has graced me to be able to communicate that truth in a manner that resonates with people. The name of this very blog and the ministry associated with it is tethered to the truth of God’s word. The Lord Jesus and the Apostles spoke so much about truth that we certainly must give it much emphasis as the followers of Christ. But Jesus said that it was His love, not His truth, that would tell the world we belong to Him. He seems to be declaring that His love through us will present His love for them. Love is relational, truth is perfect on its own. Love hurts and so does truth…but the hurt which comes from love forces you to be vulnerable while the hurt which accompanies truth merely requires you to be honest. Love is something that is difficult to master because in each relationship it must be carefully lived out. If I’m being honest, truth is easier because it is primarily between you and God…
Love is between you and God and everyone else. Do we have room to grow in this? I would have to say definitely so. I plan to start today. Don’t let this Sunday pass before you prayerfully, proactively engage in purposed love for people. Remember, His love is unconditional and continuous. His love seeks the highest good of its object so it is completely selfless. His love resulted in the highest sacrifice which could possibly be made so don’t sell yourself too short as you ponder how much is enough. Some might wonder, “What if I do this and nobody notices? What if my love is wasted because nobody sees that it is the love of Jesus through me?”
Oh, believe me, Someone will notice. He has provided so much for this to be our reality. His eyes are seeking those whose hearts are for Him. It is enough to know that He will see your purposed love. And in it, He will see Himself…isn’t that the whole point, anyway?