Tag: make disciples

Making Jesus Attractive

DiogoMorgado_Jesus1Creating converts is easy. There are whole programs designed to convince people of their need to believe something different. Christianity isn’t the only religion that seeks to create converts and really isn’t even the most successful at it. But, still converting others tends to be our main goal. It isn’t necessarily wrong, but it should be our end game; making disciples that make disciples should be. I’m convinced that creating converts remains our main focus because it requires far less from us than making disciples. We’ve diminished Jesus’ commission to create followers that are enabled to create other followers down to handing someone an invite card and hoping they show up. My 6 yr old does that. So when we talk about inviting people into Christ, what are we talking about? What makes them want to come? Isaiah 53:2 says that there was nothing physically appealing about Him. There was nothing in His looks that drew people to Him. If He was here today, He’s not getting picked to be The Bachelor. But yet, over the last 2000 years, millions of people have been drawn to and  follow Him. Why?

In John 6:44, Jesus tells us explicitly that the only way people come to Him is at the drawing of The Father. Does that mean we have no dog in the fight? Is Jesus letting us off the hook for implementing the Great Commission? Not even a change. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul lets us in on our part of making Jesus known to others. He says, “…be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. He saying that the fruit of our following Jesus well, will cause others to glory and praise God. We get to be a part of positioning people for the Father to draw people to Jesus. I love the way The Message translation says it. It says, “Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.” Our life of following Jesus ought to reflect a love and righteousness that makes Jesus attractive. But it isn’t a gushy love. And it isn’t an unintelligent or naive love.

Love often and well.

Tweet: Love often and well. | Latest post on #ApproachGod | Making Jesus Attractive http://ctt.ec/2WNy8+ via @bpags2Some may argue the need to be “honest” with unbelievers about the very real truth of God’s wrath and hell. Both of those are very real things and we, as believers, ought to be concerned about them for ours and others’ sake. You can no more divorce love from wrath than you can mercy from justice, but that can’t be our introduction of Jesus to an unbeliever. Those are important conversations, but they’re conversations that come as relationship develops. If we introduce a world to a Savior, they don’t even believe in, by asking, “If you died tonight, where would you go, heaven or hell?” That question bears little weight on the majority of those that don’t believe in Jesus. In reality we’re not actually attracting them to Jesus, we’re trying to scare and coerce them into converting. It’s almost the equivalent to a far milder modern day version of the Inquisition, only we’ve traded instruments of physical fear for instruments of mental fear. If thought through that tactic honestly would we use it as an approach to initiate any of the other relationships we try to build? I assume if we did, we’d all be pretty lonely.

When we talk about attracting people to Jesus, it starts in how we love each other, as Christians, and how we love our neighbors, which is everyone else. If God is love, everything we do, our entire life, should reflect that. That’s what makes Jesus attractive. Love is the thing that will soften the hearts of others and open them to the possibility of who He is. In that, the Father draws them to Him.

Love often and well.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it by clicking one of the below buttons. Thanks.

Loved People, Love People. (2015)

loved people love peopleI messed up. When I wrote Monday’s post, Loved People, I was supposed to stick to the idea that although God loves everyone, as Christians we’re aware of this truth and we can find wholeness and peace in that. I didn’t. Instead, I went off on a tangent about how because we know we’re loved and we’ve experienced the joy of that, we ought to be compelled to love others. That should have been this post. But, I’m not sorry. Over the last few years I’ve gotten to a place where I can’t separate the two. In this post I’ll just expand on Monday’s.

The thing about love is that humans have turned it into a feeling. I’m convinced it’s not. Inarguably there are feelings that accompany love, but as a feeling all it’s own, that doesn’t do love justice. I say that for a couple reasons. The first is found in how feelings surrounding love change. The love I feel for my wife now, as opposed to when we first met, feels totally different. When I look at her now my love has solidarity and carries the weight and depth of years of struggle and success. I look at her differently. We talk with each other differently.  Our love for each other is more mature, though still maturing further, but it’s far more mature than it was on our wedding day. The second is that feelings ebb and flow based on circumstance. If love was simply a feeling, the cross might have looked different. But, for Jesus to still display love, while He hung there, torn to shreds, dying, surely that is more than a feeling. At the least, it was a conscious decision and the most, it’s something we can’t even understand, but still get to experience. I’ll agree that love is in part a collection of feelings, albeit different ones at different time, but what makes love actually love, is the action that accompanies those feelings.

In the Kingdom of Heaven, love begets love. If we are a loved people, and we know that, we have to love others. There’s no exception; Jesus doesn’t leave room for it. For those that are business, or even process minded, think of it in terms of Vision | Mission | Strategy.

Vision: 1 Timothy 2:3-4

“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Mission: Matthew 28:19-20

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

Strategy: Matthew 22:37-39 & John 13:35

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

If God desires all to be saved and Jesus commissioned us to make disciples of all nations, teaching them all He commanded, so that they’ll teach it, then the strategy that He developed around that is love. His strategy is not just drenched in love, it is love. All that He taught revolved around healing, caring for others, turning the other cheek, goodness toward our neighbor in spite of their intent. And all of that requires love as the plan of action. What Jesus introduced was higher level thinking in the area of glorifying God. It revolved around acknowledging our inability to make good on our sins and instead reoriented our attention toward relieving the burden of others, through acts of love. It’s the only reason we’re still here and He hasn’t returned; that all might be saved.

Love is the foundation of Jesus’ ministry.

Tweet: Love is the foundation of Jesus’ ministry. #ApproachGod http://ctt.ec/hDXxu+ vis @bpags2

You can argue theology. You can twist scripture to support what and who you think God hates. You can even put your own spin on what is required for salvation (but, to be clear, it’s by grace through faith alone, both a gift from God). But, you cannot argue that Jesus was not a minister of love. If God is love and Jesus is God and Jesus is the cornerstone, then love is the cornerstone. Love is the foundation of Jesus’ ministry. As a Christian, it’s also yours. As a loved people, you’re expected, and ought to be compelled, to love people.

Loved people love people.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it by clicking one of the buttons below. Thanks

Equality for All

I’ve recently read some great blogs surrounding the whole same gender marriage issue.  Most talked about loving others regardless.  Some supported, some opposed.  From a facts perspective, both had very valid points.  One of my favorites brought up the point that we (as Christians) have let this issue distract (<–that’s the link to the blog) us from the point of this weekend… Jesus.  

I’m positive there isn’t a need for another blog post or article or YouTube video about why same gender marriage is or isn’t right.  Everyone has made there stance known and yet we’re still yelling and spewing anger and hate.  I carry no misconceptions about my blog changing peoples minds for whether to support or oppose this issue.  So I don’t intend to try.  This post isn’t about getting my view out there or promoting my agenda.  This post isn’t even meant point back to the purpose of this weekend.  This post is meant to point to the purpose of our life, Jesus, and promote His agenda.  

The truth is you can’t legislate morality one way or the other.  You can try, but it won’t matter.  If you legalize same gender marriage, people will still oppose it.  If you don’t, people will still oppose that decision.  It won’t end.  Truthfully, I’m not sure that this legislation is the real issue.  I know it’s a big deal for many people, but the basis of all this is the desire for equality.  Sadly, that won’t ever happen.  There will always be someone that has more.  More rights, more money, more ability, more privileged.  That’s not to say we don’t fight for what is right, good and just.  I’m thankful for people like MLK Jr.  He’s a hero for sure.  But we’ll never live in a country or world, for that matter, where everyone is equal.

But, there is one place where we are all the same.  Where no one’s transgressions outweigh another’s.  A place where we are loved regardless of us.  A place where we can rest after the strain of our shouts to be heard.  It’s the cross.  We stand at the foot of the cross on equal and level ground.  The cross is not an Easter thing.  It’s a thank God everyday thing.  It’s the place that Jesus, through His blood, sweat and tears, prepared for us to be on the same footing as everyone else.  It’s the place that Jesus meets us and loves us.  There we are equals, all of us.

Regardless of how passionate you are about this issue, if you’re a Christian you have three commands from Jesus (there where a lot of them, but three that encompass them all): 1) Love God, 2) Love others, and 3) Make disciples.  Those three commands require their own post… maybe even their own book, hmm.  But that middle command wasn’t group specific, it actually meant others.  Not just your friends or church or even other Christians.  It means all others.  When you genuinely love God, you’ll love others and you’ll make disciples.  Carl Medaris, author of ‘Speaking of Jesus‘, makes this point perfect when asked by a lesbian, “What’s your position on gays?”  He said, “I didn’t even think about that one, ‘The same as Jesus’: to love them.'”  That’s Jesus’ agenda: to love others.  That was the purpose of the cross and this weekend: so we know He loves us and so we are enabled to love others. 

We’re all equal at the cross,

Bruce

© 2017 BrucePagano.com

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

%d bloggers like this: