Thursday, March 7, 2013

Losing Heart? Part 2

It was in the most rebellious stage of my life that I watched 1 particular person love me like none other. She invested time and energy in me despite my inward rebellion. She did every thing she could do to get to know me. She challenged me, encouraged me, loving rebuked me, and often publically rebuked me. Yet, I knew one thing-----SHE loved me! Why? Because I saw that even because of my ugly sin, she saw a person, a soul! She purposed in her heart to show me the love of Christ, and I am eternally grateful!

My friends, I understand that amidst our youth groups, our Christian camps, our growing homes, and an other ministry, we will see Satan’s hand in individuals lives. But, I serve a God who even took the time to talk to and love the woman at the well. She was living in adultery, and God knew EVERY detail of her life and her sin. Yet, He willingly stopped and LOVED this woman. You see true pictures of His love by looking at the story of the prodigal son and many other parables. Why must we come to our churches and our homes with the attitude that these people are not worth our time? Why would we throw the opportunity to love someone to Christ away for the comfortableness of the growing, willing Christians? Are we teaching them how to love others the way Christ loves us? I don’t think so. We instead are teaching the next generations to steer clear of the rebels, ignore them, condemn them, make fun of them, don’t waste your time on them. I am finding it’s results to be like a seeping sewage stystem and the leaks are growing every day.

How do we expect to win any if they see we don’t love some?

Might I shift gear a bit? I know the Lord says, “Answer not a fool to his folly.” And, I know He desires for us to avoid sitting with the sinners. We all know  that God does not desire us to go to the bar with those worldly friends in order to win them. I know that God cautions us about the fool and the scorner. But, He never says in His Word that we are to not love these, right? I think we are quick to jump on the verses on the fools, scorners, and hypocrites and throw out verses like …

Proverbs 10:12~Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

Jeremiah 31:3~The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

John 13:34-35~A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

2 Cor. 5:14~For the love of Christ constraineth us;

Mark 12:31~And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Luke 6:27~But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

Romans 13:8~ Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

John 14:15~If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Christ has always been known as a friend of sinners!

Never in these verses do we read:

Love your neighbor IF they dress the way you do

Love your neighbor IF they talk the way you do

Love your neighbor IF they love the Lord

Love your neighbor IF they go to your church

Love your neighbor IF they don’t do drugs

Love your neighbor IF they don’t have wacky tastes

Love your neighbor IF they have all the same standards as you

 You may, say, Molly, seriously? Yup, absolutely positively! I remember Christians treating another Christian family like dirt because they chose to allow their girls to wear pants.  To the point that they refused to talk to them for months. Really? I’ve watched arguments via facebook about a bazillion different topics, and so much more. This is showing the Love of Christ? I don’t think so!!!!! I don’t see where in God’s Word that He tells us we ought to quit on people because they are too far gone or because they don’t believe in all the standards that you cling to.  Neither do I see Him say that we ought to love with a huge list of exceptions. He commands us to LOVE no matter what.

I know I am sounding redundant, but I don’t know what else to do. This is totally my heart and I am scared that so many in Christian circles have already forsaken the command of loving as Christ loves. How can we get it back? How can we teach people to start again? How can we teach people to look past the numbers, the people, the sin, and see that those God has given us to minister to are souls! Souls that will one day spend eternity in Heaven or Hell. Souls who you could impact for eternity. Souls that you, through your actions, may be deterring them from wanting Christ.

Are you an individual that is ministering with a heart of love? Not just plain love, but a love of Christ? Are you loving that rebellious teen instead of shunning them and wishing they’d just never come back? I know that when rebellion is outward and individuals seek to drag others with them that there should be consequences, concern, and warnings. BUT, it does not mean we stop loving them!!! Much of that love can be shown in how we respond to their rebellion, communicate with our words, and act with our body language. They are watching us, my dear friends! The godly, the wicked, the rebel, the proud, you name it---they are watching our every step. What a huge responsibility, huh? I’d say so.

Just last week I lovingly confronted a half dozen teenagers about a particular situation and reminded them that loving the sinner was what Christ commanded of us. Yes, the sin was repugnant and blatant, BUT we are to still love. And, even if the sinner wanders further into sin and fully into the world we are to still show our love and continue to challenge and encourage. One day that person may get one more chance and what an overwhelming joy it would be if they chose to run to you because they saw Jesus in you!

Some have asked me about the godly teens, the ones it seems easier to love. My friend, they need the love of Christ shown in and through us too! Just as much as the wanderer and runner from God. They all need to see that we love them-----as an individual, as a friend, and as a soul that will bow before an almighty God one day. I mustn’t ever focus so much on the those who seemingly do not care about the things of God and forget about those who love Him with their whole hearts. We must be quick to encourage, reach out, and love with Christ’s love.

So, how about it, my friends? Are you loving as Christ loves you? He has shown me specific things that I must change. And, while this is my heart speaking through these posts, I pray it becomes yours too.

We may end up winning none if we fail to love others as Christ loves us!

After sharing my heart with my sweet husband he wrote this poem. I wanted to share it with you one, because it tickled me pink that this is his heart too, and as he listened to my burdened heart his became more burdened too. I love this! If you aren’t a youth pastor or youth leader, plug your own “job title” into those spots…mom, dad, pastor, teacher, friend! (This is the raw, first edition---he hasn’t had time to tweak it yet, but I cannot wait to publish any longer)

If Jesus were the youth pastor

~Brian Swaffer~

If Jesus were the youth pastor

What do you think He’d say

To the teen who seems to have it all

And thinks they’ve got it made

 

He’d say it doesn’t matter what

You own down here today

You’d better lay up treasure

Where the streets of gold are made.

 

If Jesus were the youth pastor

What do you think He’d say

To the rebel who won’t listen

When you’re trying to preach the Word

 

He’d say, young soul, I died for you

To take your sins away

And even though you hate me so

I’d like to be your Lord.

 

If Jesus were the youth pastor

What do you think He’d say

To the kid who thinks they’re spiritual

And others should take note

 

He’d say to them to look around

How did you get this way

I didn’t save you from your sin

So you could boast and gloat.

 

If Jesus were the youth pastor

What do you think He’d say

To the kid who’s sitting all alone

And doesn’t seem to fit

 

He’d say, my child come over here

I’d like to show the way

For you to have a family

Confess, believe, admit.

 

If Jesus were the youth pastor

What do you think He’d say

To the teen who’s always helping out

And reaching out to more

 

He’d say to them, well done my child

I’m glad you act this  way

Don’t ever let your zeal depart

Rewards you’ll have in store.

(Would love for you to stop back tomorrow and see just how awesome my God is! He prepared my heart weeks before this conference about this and then gave me the icing on the cake, so to speak, the very first session here at the Wilds)