Friday, January 23, 2009

Random Principle of Ministry #2: Real loves tells the truth.

I heard of a church once that made a list called "100 ways to reach your neighbor." They had many things listed like: make a pie for your neighbor, invite someone over for dinner, or rake your neighbor's leaves for them.

All of them were good, but you know what was never mentioned? Telling them about Jesus. It wasn't on there. "Study the Bible with your neighbor" didn't make the list.

I was talking to a Christian recently who was doing homeless ministry. She loved going there and loving the less fortunate, giving them food, praying with them, and caring about their problems... but she felt something was missing. She said, "I'm glad they can see a difference in me from the world. But they still don't know the reason for that difference. They're content knowing I'm a really kind person."

Because of arrogant Christianity, I'm afraid some of us have swung to the other end. Instead of teaching people, we've opted to "teach with our life" instead. But we can't have one without the other. We can't be hypocrites with our lives, but we can't make it about us either. A gospel that simply makes me look really good is no gospel at all. It's not about us. There's a reason for our good deeds: God has saved us! And, friend, He can save you too.

I gave some advice to this girl doing the homeless ministry. I told her, "It's amazing what you're doing there, but you're doing no favor by letting someone go to Hell unwarned. You have to, maybe with tears in your eyes, tell him the truth. It's good news, but he may not see it that way at first."

And so, it's true with all of us. Being kind isn't enough. Notice Jesus. He loved people so intensely, but it's precisely because of this love that he risked the relationship and told the truth. Contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as sin. And we do no favors by letting someone drown in it. Being kind is only halfway; we must risk our friendship with others if it means saving their lives.

This goes with Christians and non-Christians both.

Aren't we glad Christ didn't leave us in blissful ignorance? I am so happy He didn't leave me as I was, but led others to me to confront my reason for existence.

The world is asleep in sin. God has called His followers to go around and wake them up. With kindness and love, yes, but some people don't like being woken up. Nevertheless, our calling is still to awaken the sleeping.

May we have the love of God so deeply rooted within us that it overflows into everything we do. May we love someone enough to tell them the truth, regardless of what it does to our relationship with them, because we love them too much to see them drown.


Terry said...

Without a doubt, you are one of the best bloggers in the Churches of Christ. Have you considered writing a book?

Like a Mustard Seed said...

Seems like not all that long ago, when what you described here was rightly identified as the "social gospel", where doing nice things to help people surplants the actual preaching of the Good News.

Now, it's like this mentality is becoming the norm, on every plane of church life I look... I'd guess it started to gain traction in the "Emergent" circles (I know that's a pretty vague term), but now has filtered out into all sorts of different camps.

The sucky thing is, it's such a clever deception, such a subtle error. Because, of course, we are called to love people in tangible, physical ways. But once this de facto form of "witnessing", like you said, people are receiving temporal help, but still meeting death without hearing the message of the Cross, the only way they can be ultimately saved....


Joshua Tucker said...

Terry - Your comment was very flattering. I guess I've thought about it, but I don't think I even realized I had a gift for writing until I started writing this blog, and other people started saying so. I'm not sure I could write anything that hasn't already been written, but it's a dream of mine. Who knows, but anyway your comment was super encouraging.

Daniel - Exactly. We are called to do good deeds, but good deeds in themselves are meaningless without the Reason for them. Christ told us to let our lights so shine that people would glorify God, not us. We tend to specialize in one area as humans, don't we? We'll either be so much about good works that we're legalistic, or so much about grace that we've forgotten that grace is so beautiful because sin is so ugly. I appreciate your consistent thoughts on here, brother.

Anonymous said...

Great Post. Your remarks on how telling our friends and family, sometimes affects our relationships.

Repentance is a act that in itself affects our relationship with friends. Following Jesus requires turning away from sin. When your friends ask you why, it needs to be because I love Jesus. Not just because I am turning over a new leaf. Your right. That needs to be stated. Hopefully, you will not lose any friends while knocking sin off in your life.

I read your blog and think it is excellent.

Paul Ford said...


God has blessed you with great courage to tell the truth.

It is a 'discipline' that a lot more of us these days simply don't have (like it used to be). As gross as this picture is, I equate what you've said to the example of "Who is friend enough to tell me that I've got "something" in my nose." Most people would look away at this ugly sight and not have the courage to speak. Only a few posses that courage. But we all are given that responsibility.

Sin is that ugly "sight" to which the Lord came and told us about. You see, he is our perfect friend who does not like to see us walking around looking like that, but tells us, and shows us that we've got some cleaning up to do.

Making people "feel good" on their way to hell is not sharing the gift, and is not being responsible with the "talent" that we've been given.

May God continue to bless you with courage to teach His will to the world.

Keep it up bro.

Alisha Dawn said...

Good reminder. Seems like God is opening up my eyes to help remind me it's all about Him and not about how I "feel" when tell the truth!
Good post. I always enjoy hearing what you have to say about our walk.

Joshua Tucker said...

Larry - Thanks for your encouraging comment. I totally agree about making it about Jesus instead of about us. And thanks for reading my blog and complimenting it, I'm really enjoying writing and getting to know more Christ-followers.

Paul - I always look forward to your comments. I loved what you said, that we don't do any good making someone "feel good on the way to Hell." I'll definitely use that. Thanks also for the encouragement. I think you'll really like my next post.

Alisha - I totally agree. And thanks for being a living example this. I can't wait to marry you in April! You show me Christ in many ways, and it pushes me on when I become apathetic or selfish. I love you.

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