I heard a sad story recently of a man who was dissuaded from accepting Christ because he had heard many words spoken or written about the Lord, but had not seen those same persons demonstrating those words in their lives.
It caused me to pause. Is that ever true of me? What would my neighbors say and what about the person who last served me in a restaurant?
Jesus made clear there are two things we are called to be and do: Love God and love others.
I love how Kenny Luck describes this:
“The secret sauce of life with God – the secret of doing the right thing 100 percent of the time – came down to making a commitment to God and a commitment to other people.”
What does that look like? We can say this, but what does it look like?
Most of us could come up with a list of things we believe answer the question. Things you would find on the list would include praying, reading the Bible, going to church, giving, and more. But it really all boils down to one basic thing: Do what pleases God.
That sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it?
I think it clearly means being obedient to Him. But to really become skilled at loving God and pleasing Him, I need to ask Him (more often than I sometimes do) what He thinks about something I am planning to do. It means conversing with Him on a broad array of things to learn what He says about that in His Word. It means when we ask Him during times of prayer that we also take time to listen to how His Spirit speaks to us. The more time I spend in my relationship with Him, the better I will know Him and learn what most pleases Him.
How well I do any of that will depend in large part on my conviction to discover what loving God looks like and how to do it well.
The second thing that Jesus taught is to love others.
It’s the best relational advice He could ever give.
Most of us are more challenged in that part than we wish or would like to admit. It can be so much easier to say it than to live that out (assuming we might know what that looks like).
Why is that very often true?
We all have a bent toward some degree of selfishness that can get in the way of loving well. We also have preferences for certain types of people and things we enjoy doing. If those preferences rule us, are we really loving well or does that stem from that sticky selfish part of us?
Most of us would need to agree we prefer to be with and do things for people whom we like. Doing things for those we may not like as well, may not be like us, may not think like us or look like us can be a different story.
If we love others out in the open, we will be attuned to those God leads us to as well as those whom He wants to discover His light and love shining through us.
Jesus modeled all this so well. He loved people first no matter what their status or heart condition. If we follow His lead He can show us the way and He will be glorified.
To love others well requires us to set aside our selfish natures and our preferences and think about how we would like to be loved. Kenny Luck calls that “the principle of reciprocity.” The truth is that none of us can do that very well unless we are focused first on loving God. Both things Jesus requires of us are connected.
Loving out in the open and being/doing these two things is just that simple. It is also impossible unless He is at work within us and we are relying on Him.
What are our convictions? That will make all the difference.
“Convictions will be the kindling. Belief will be the spark. Faith and trust in the moment will be the wildfire that turns the horizon reddish orange in a worldwide movement of God’s Spirit.” Kenny Luck