I had the wonderful privilege this weekend of joining my friend Eva in jail ministry. She preached a message called, “The sheep, the coin and the Son.” In her message, she explained to the inmates how each of these parables demonstrates God’s heart to seek and save that which is lost. Eva and I have been serving in jail ministry together for a couple of years, but this message moved their hearts in a way I’ve not seen before. Why? Because it is the ‘goodness‘ of God leads men to repent. (Romans 2:4) They were overwhelmed by the love of God. Who wouldn’t want to serve a God who loved them enough to die for them?
People often view God as an angry, vengeful being who creates havoc in the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible tells us, “God IS love”. (1 John 4:8) The havoc we see everyday is the consequence of mankind’s disobedience to God’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)
You don’t have to look far to see the result of that disobedience in our world. A life of selfishness and greed does not lead to happiness. It leads to misery.
What would it look like if mankind took God at His word and just loved? Medical advances in resuscitation have given many a glimpse into what lies ahead in the moments following death. A reoccurring theme emerges from those who’ve had near death experiences … LOVE. They are sent back with a message that loving God and loving others is what matters in this life. Isn’t this simply a confirmation of what Jesus taught?
Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” – Matthew 22:36-40 King James Version (KJV)
Love is the message of the gospel and the central theme of a purposeful life. When we walk in love for God and others, sin loses it’s power over us. Without love, we are just making noise. (1 Corinthians 13:1)
Yes, I believe in hell. It breaks my heart to think of anyone spending eternity separated from God, especially knowing the price Jesus paid to redeem us. That being said, in all my years as a Christian I have never won one person to Christ by spewing judgement and condemnation at them. In fact, the rebellious nature of mankind causes those who are presented the gospel in this way to rear up in pride and reject God’s grace and mercy. A fear based message should be a last resort in winning the lost, not a first. There is a place for it, but only when the love of God has been rejected, and only out of true concern (love) for the soul of the individual.
Pray: Father, thank You for Your love and mercy. Help me to live a life of love toward You and others. When I see the pain and injustice in the world, caused by the rebellion of mankind remind me to, ‘just love’. Help all of humanity to grasp the simplistic truth that love is the solution to the turmoil we face. Love does not kill, steal or destroy. It heals. It restores. It overcomes.