Last post I wrote about how when our Church chooses to serve our community, God grows and bonds us together in a way few other activities can (you can read that post here). Again, we like to say a church that serves together, grows together. Now, we have observed on our outreaches that When we grow in our love together as fellow believers, the community takes notice and this in of itself becomes an attracting power to the Church and to Jesus.
Jesus commenting on the power that we have when we love each other says:
“By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35
Now, I have been to many outreach conferences and missions meetings where this verse is always used to prove that Not-yet believers will know we are disciples of Jesus by the love we show our lost communities. However, even though other scriptures support this view completely, in context what Jesus is saying in John 13:35 is completely different.
You see Jesus is speaking to his DISCIPLES when He says this. So what Jesus is really saying is that our Not-yet believing friends in our community will see the way the CHURCH loves one another within the body of believers, and this will be an overwhelming proof that we are Jesus’ disciples, which becomes a powerful attracting agent for God to draw not-yet believers to Jesus. 1 of the 2 primary ways the early Church became so effective in reaching their communities was simply because they took care of each other, and let the love they showed one another spill out upon “outsiders” who took notice.
44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
We have experienced that when we start reaching out in practical ways to show God’s love to our community, that people take notice that there is something different about us. We are doing simple acts of service that are not inherently enjoyable, yet we have smiles on our faces, we are encouraging each other, we have a spirit of unity and joy, and people notice that. Now if we went up to wash the windows of a business and we were all screaming at each other saying,”you washed the windows LAST time, it’s MY turn, you always do this to me! You are being Selfish!” people would want nothing to do with us. However, when people see our love for one another even within our own outreach teams, people know we are disciples of Jesus, and are drawn closer to Him.
To support this I will give an example. One of the Kindness Outreaches we love doing is going to apartments that have a centralized dumpster and simply offering to take people’s trash from their apartment to the dumpster. A place we frequently send teams is the on campus apartments that are at our local college. This is where we met a student named Cordell. We told Cordell what we were doing and he seemed pretty shocked. He gave us his trash, we prayed a quick 10 second prayer for him, gave him our outreach card, and went on our way. Cordell started coming to our college ministry and within a few weeks he surrendered his life to Christ. I was doing some follow up with him and I asked, what was it that attracted you to come to our Church. Now, when i ask this most of the time people respond, “The Kindness you showed me with no strings attached compelled me to check out your church” however, this times Cordell responded in a different way. He said:
“You know Austin the love you showed me was cool, but I was sitting in my apartment playing video games, doing what i wanted to do. You guys were picking up nasty, dirty trash for students and when I looked at you, I knew that you were having more fun picking up TRASH then i was, doing what i wanted to do. I realized that your group had something I didn’t and I knew that i wanted to be apart of your group.”
What Cordell was communicating to me, even if he did not know it at the time, was that when he looked at our unity and fellowship, he saw the power and love of Jesus, and knew in his heart he did not have what we had.
We baptized a lady about a month ago who surrendered her life to Christ at one of our Sunday gatherings who literally said the exact same thing that Cordell did.
Due to the fact that most congregations do everything within the walls of their church buildings, i think communities have not seen the love we have for one another displayed in a public forum. This is why living an outward focused life as individuals and corporately as churches is becoming so important. Satan has done a great job selling the lie that if you are a Christ follower you are boring, stingy, and hateful. Nothing pushes back the darkness of this lie more than a group of Christ followers that let the ferocious love they have for one another spill out into the community through doing simple acts of Kindness done with no strings attached. This my friends is not another Outreach Program, but an open handed, Spirit led, people centered ministry that shouts we are Christ followers!… and testifies to the community that the joy that is in our hearts is due to the fact that we are well loved by a gracious Savior and other believers!
Get out there, enjoy yourself, smile, and serve. It will change the world.
“Small things done with great Love will change the world.” – Mother Teresa