Loving the Lost
Moving Past Discomfort
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care…This simple quote challenged and resonated with me when I heard my pastor speak on reaching the people who haven’t accepted God’s love and redemption yet. For so long, I simply saw the lost as people who chose not to believe. They lived differently and it was easier to turn away in judgment, rather than be uncomfortable. It was easier to focus on our differences rather than find similarities; my heart was cold and I chose to not build relationships.
Then I heard this message and the Holy Spirit helped to soften my heart as I was presented with the truth – we can move past our discomfort to love the lost, just as the Father does. Jesus explains the important choice of humility over judgment in Luke 18. Let’s read it in The Passion Translation…
Humility in Prayer – Luke 18:9-14
Jesus taught this parable to those who were convinced they were morally upright and those who trusted in their own virtue yet looked down on others with disgust: “Once there were two men who went into the temple to pray. One was a proud religious leader, the other a despised tax collector. The religious leader stood apart from the others and prayed, ‘How I thank you, O God, that I’m not wicked like everyone else. They’re cheaters, swindlers, and crooks—like that tax collector over there. God, you know that I never cheat or commit adultery; I fast from food twice a week and I give you a tenth of all I make.’ “The tax collector stood off alone in the corner, away from the Holy Place, and covered his face in his hands, feeling that he was unworthy to even look up to God. Beating his breast, he sobbed with brokenness and tears saying, ‘God, please, in your mercy and because of the blood sacrifice, forgive me, for I am nothing but the most miserable of all sinners!’ “Which one of them left for home that day made right with God? It was the humble tax collector and not the religious leader! For everyone who praises himself will one day be humiliated before all, and everyone who humbles himself will one day be lifted up and honored before all.”
We can learn new ways of thinking, if we are willing to listen and grow. God’s heart on the topic of the lost is pretty straightforward – that all would come to know Him according to 1 Timothy 2:3-4.
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
When God reveals His heart to us as we get to know Him, He begins to teach us to see like He sees. He’s helped to change my understanding on how to love the people who need to know Him. Although it’s not always easy to make connections with those who choose to live outside of relationship with God, I am growing and learning to step outside of my comfort zone and find common ground, in order to show love.
Some of the people that I love are not walking with Jesus. I can’t bear the thought of them not knowing Jesus intimately and being separated from Him. I’m so thankful that my pastor taught me what to do instead of worry – to love and to pray. This is our directive for the lost.
Love in Action
After Jesus rose from the grave, He told His disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) This directive is for all believers. Preaching the gospel includes befriending people who think and act differently then we do! We can ask the Holy Spirit to show us how and He will give us the wisdom and the words as we step out and put love into action.
Another way to preach the gospel, or put love into action, is to pray. Here are a few verses to pray over those who don’t yet know Jesus:
John 6:44 Pray that the Father will draw them to Him.
Matthew 13:1-23 Pray for their heart to be like good soil that receives the Father’s truth.
Romans 8:15 Pray for them to know the freedom that God gives.
Matthew 9:38 Pray that other believers will cross their paths and share the Gospel & love of Jesus with them.
Ephesians 1:17 Pray for Jesus to be revealed as Savior & for them to know Him intimately.
To the Lost
Maybe you are one of the people who don’t yet have relationship with God through His Son, Jesus. You may have experienced rejection from believers who were uncomfortable or judgmental. On behalf of those who have offended or hurt you, I’m sorry. If you were made to feel less than or unaccepted, I’m sorry. This kind of treatment must break God’s heart. I’m so sorry for misrepresenting Him. He is so much more than we’ve made Him out to be; He is all-encompassing love, forgiveness, acceptance, righteousness, and wholeness.
In The Message, John 3:16-18 says,
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.
God offers us new life and it’s the best gift we’ve ever been given. I pray that the Father will bring healing to the hurting places in your life so that you can fully receive His love.
A New Start
We are all in need of a fresh start. Whether you identify more with the judgmental Pharisee or one who has experienced rejection, we are all in need of a Savior, and each one of us has opportunity for change. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” As we confess our sin and admit our need, God is faithful to make us new. He is faithful to renew our minds and teach us a new way of seeing, and living, and loving.