Focus on the one… We have a saying at Renovation that we are committed to reaching the one with the hope of Jesus. The one represents the person that is close to you but far from Jesus. In the well-known parable in Luke 15: 4-7, Jesus conveys His heart for the one. “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” In this passage, we are able to see Jesus heart for the one. Jesus pursuit of the one does not neglect or minimize His love for the 99. Rather, examples of his love for those who are far from Himself. The one is not an exclusive singular term, rather represents everyone who is far from God. We are able to see how Jesus is always pursuing the ones that are far from Himself.
As a worshiper, pastor and leader, loving the one is my aim. To constantly surround me with those that are far from God. When we pursue the one, we are committing to loving them unconditionally without the affirmation of their sins or alienation because of their sins. Pursuing the one means we love them unconditionally. Loving them no matter what their stance is on what we believe. Over the past several months, I have been wrestling with how to continue to love the one even when their lifestyle or beliefs are contrary to Gods word? I believe this is an issue that the church must wrestle with today more than ever before. My conviction is that as the church we must radically improve how we love those who disagree with us while not neglecting speaking biblical truth into their lives. Rosaria Butterfield says, “it’s a violence to have our words be stronger than our deeds.
HOW TO LIVE THE ONE LIKE JESUS: Here are 3 truths I am learning about how to love the one like Jesus.
I MUST TO BECOME FRIENDS of THEM, NOT SCOUT THEM:
A sports scout canvases the country for the next rising talent. Looking for someone they can invest in to get something from them. They have an agenda in their relationship. This is not to suggest that scouts are bad. Not at all, this is just the nature of their job. I firmly believe that our agenda should not be to change someone, rather, to love them as Jesus loves them and allow the Holy Spirit and God’s word to change them. Our neighbors do not need us to “fix them”, they need someone to be a light in their dark world.
I MUST AVOID STIGMATIZING THEIR SINS ABOVE MY SINS:
It’s easy to separate or even elevate sins based on ever-changing cultural opinions. Romans 3:23 is a great reminder for me that my sins equally set us apart from God as anyone else. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Even my most seemingly trivial sin (if there was such a thing), would be enough to set me apart from God for eternity. If it was not for the grace of God. We must avoid the language of, “how could they”, “I would never” or “I can’t imagine” less we remind ourselves that without the unmerited love of God we too would be left to our own ways.
I MUST SPEAK ABOUT REPENTANCE WITH FERVENTNESS AND LOVE:
The most loving thing I can do with my one is to love them enough to show them that Jesus has a better way and encourage them to live in God’s best. Here is where it gets difficult; then I must continue to love them even if they don’t agree.
Undoubted there are countless groups of people who have been scared by the out of context and unbiblical banter that has taken place around the topic of repentance. The call to repentance was ever meant to be a billboard slogan, a sandwich sign at a grand opening or yelled through a megaphone at a group of people. Rightly understood, repentance is a call to acknowledged Jesus lordship over your own and to commit to living in it.
Romans 2:4 has been a wealth of conviction and encouragement for me over the past several weeks, “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” Paul is addressing the hypocrites of the Christian faith. He draws our attention to how people change. It’s by the undeserving, unmerited kindness of God. Paul highlights that God’s justness and kindness are not polar opposites. Instead, they complement one another.
My job is to love those who are far from God, even when they do not agree with my beliefs. To continue confessing my own sins to God and leaning on the grace of God for my life and in love, point those that are close to me to God’s better plan for them.
Who is your one?