Reaching Out In Christian Love

I will outline three steps to reaching out in Christian love to others: Don't Get Burned By Sin, Mark of Maturity, and Let's Show Them!

Don't Get Burned By Sin Some people place a surge protector on their computers, TV's, stereos, and microwave ovens to protect them from lightning. A surge protector is designed to prevent excess electricity from reaching an electrical device. You plug the surge protector into the wall. And then you plug the electrical device into the surge protector. The surge protector goes between the wall outlet and the electrical device and acts as a buffer zone. The surge protector can handle some extra electricity. But if the jolt of electricity is too great, the surge protector will self-destruct (burn out) to prevent the electricity from reaching the electrical device. You then throw the surge protector away and buy a new one.

Jesus is like a surge protector. He acts as a buffer zone between sinful man and God. God is perfect and holy. So to approach the throne of God, we must be cleansed of our sins to seek audience with Him. When Jesus died on the cross, he bore our sins. It was just like one huge, jolt of electricity passed through Him. Jesus loved us enough to let Himself self-destruct, or get burned out, to remove our sins, thereby allowing us to have a direct relationship with God. Jesus' physical body was destroyed by the sin of man. But God did not throw Jesus away, like a useless, burned out surge protector. Instead, God brought Jesus back to life and gave Him a new body! Just like God will do for us someday!

In the days of the Old Testament, God's spirit dwelled in the temple, separated from man by a curtain. When Jesus died, that curtain was split in half. Then God sent His spirit to dwell in us, the new temple of God's spirit. God reached out to us in love by sending His Son. Jesus reached out to us in love by laying His life on the line for us. We, too, must reach out to others in Christian love. But we must be careful not to get burned by the sinful ways of those we hope to influence. Others are just as likely to influence us (for the worse) as we are likely to influence them (for the better), if we are not wary of the destructive nature of sin.

Study the Bible to learn how to recognize sin in the lives of others, and how to avoid that sin. And examine your own life for sin, lest you be guilty of hypocrisy when you identify someone else's sins. Go to God in prayer and thank Jesus for being your surge protector. And plug into Jesus!

Mark of Maturity I have warned you to be careful not to get burned by the sinful ways of those you hope to influence. But if people are so sinful, how is it possible for us to reach out to them in Christian love? How can we love someone who has no ability (at this time) to love us back? Consider love as expressed by a child, a teenager, and a mature adult.

Think back to your early childhood. Did you have a favorite teddy bear, security blanket, or baby doll that you clutched tightly when you slept? Did that inanimate object have any ability to love you back? No. But did that stop you from loving it just as much? No. You loved that lifeless object that your parents gave you. So can't you love some person, however wayward, because your heavenly Father created him? And that person even has a soul. Your teddy bear did not.

Now consider the classic example of a teenage girl hopelessly in love with a teenage boy. He could be the most wicked person imaginable, but she will never see that. (Or at least she would never admit that.) She thinks he is perfect because she loves him. And don't you dare criticize him. She will defend him to the end. She will accept the blame for any problems, or will place the blame on you.

Finally, consider the love that is experienced by a mature adult. He is likely to think his mate is perfect, too. He will not see her faults. In fact, he will likely see her faults as endearing personality quirks, instead of as shortcomings. But he is not being unrealistic in his judgment of her. He simply accepts her as she is, and forgives her shortcomings. He does not deny that she may be faulted in some way. But to him, her faults are unimportant.

We should reach out to everyone in Christian love because God, our Father, created them. We should care what happens to their souls. As Christians, we must provide standards for what is right and wrong. And the world, like the teenage girl, may blame its problems on us when we provide those standards. How can we get past the faults, sins, and false accusations of the world? We can forgive their faults, when we realize that Jesus can forgive their sins. Then their shortcomings will be unimportant. But they may never get the chance to be forgiven, unless we first love them.

Let's Show Them! It seems like whenever we have one problem, we have several. When the first crisis hits, we may not think too much of it. But as the problems continue to pile up, we start to feel overwhelmed, like we don't have enough will left to find the strength or the power to face all those problems any longer.

Why do we think that our strength of will can produce any power? We do not have any power. Nor can we generate any. The Lord provides us with whatever we need. Period. Accept that fact and you will find a certain kind of peace. A peace that only the Holy Spirit can bring. Your problems will not go away, but you just may bubble up from inside and start to giggle. You may laugh at yourself and say, "I was so silly to worry so much. Why did I think I had to come up with all right solutions? The Lord will provide."

I was recently diagnosed as having glaucoma. I have lost some of my peripheral vision. So I now use eye drops that are supposed to minimize further damage. Something about this bothered me. But I could not pinpoint what it was. I wanted someone to say something to me. I wanted someone to do something for me. But I did not know what. How could anyone help me, if I did not know what I needed?

Then I thought of a person visiting our church. I wondered how he might feel. Maybe something is bothering him. Maybe he wants someone to say something to him. But he does not know what. Maybe he wants someone to do something for him. But he does not know what. How can our church help him, if he does not know what he needs?

Our minister may say all the things a visitor needs to hear. And the Holy Spirit may be tugging at the visitor to go forward during the invitation. But some people do not want to be TOLD what to do. Some people need to be SHOWN what to do. We are all ministers of God. We can show visitors that God has the power to meet their needs.

For example, we can go forward during the invitation to give our testimony. When we share how Christ has healed our lives and made us whole, visitors can see that God's love and forgiveness is available to them, as well. So let's reach out in Christian love. And let's show them!

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