“It’s difficult to keep trusting God when nothing seems to change.”
“How could God abandon me – right at the time I needed Him most?”
“I thought my life would be so much different by the time I reached this age.”
“What is the point of trying anymore? I am so tired of doing everything and having nothing turn out the way I had hoped.”
What is the caring, appropriate response?
This is the question I asked myself in four different situations with four different people last week. Discontented, disheartened and discouraged people came forward to share their brokenness with me. Each person engaged me where they were – a place of hurt – and each asked at various levels to be heard and to be offered a word of hope, peace, and love.
Friends, I am convinced more than ever that what a hurting world needs from you and from me are our love, our assurance, our joy, and our hope in Christ.
They don’t need our judgment.
They don’t need our condemnation.
They don’t need our fear.
They don’t need our lack of engagement.
They don’t even need our platitudes.
I am convinced from the tip of my head to the tip of my toes that what people need most from you and me – as followers of Jesus Christ – is to see and to experience the love of Christ in us directed outwards and not inwards. They need the Good News of Jesus!
Okay, let’s face it. I am a missionary. My job description should center upon sharing the love of Christ, right?
However, let’s be real. A title does not mean all that much. Say the word ‘missionary’ and people will erupt like a spouting volcano with different thoughts, feelings, and experiences about that title. In fact, I heard from some one recently, that there is really no need for long-term missionaries at all. This indicated to me that this individual doesn’t even value the title I hold or work of ‘missionary’ that I do. The word ‘Christian’ stirs up just as much feeling and more. Truly, the true meaning of what should be good words and titles are cast adrift and lost in a sea of confusion, misunderstanding, and mistrust.
No. A title doesn’t mean all that much.
What is most important?
Titles mean nothing.
Our words and actions mean everything.
A long time ago, Peter and the apostles stood before their adversaries and were told to stop speaking the name of Jesus Christ. Just like the individual who believes the work of a missionary is not needed, the apostles were told the same thing. When anyone saw these guys, their thoughts, their words, and their deeds were noted as being joined and fitted together in Christ. They thought Jesus. They spoke Jesus. They lived Jesus. As a result, the apostles were beaten and flogged for their belief and trust in Christ and ordered to cease their activities in the name of Jesus.
The warning fell upon deaf ears.
The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah. New International Version Acts 5: 40-42
Friends, as I consider the four people I had the privilege of listening to this week, I am determined to do as the apostles did. I will continue to go from one venue to the next sharing the love of Jesus Christ with whomever the Lord brings my way. There are too many broken people in this world who have important questions, significant thoughts, and deep feelings about whether the love of Christ is really, really, really real.
Because sadly, there are some who may hold the title of Christian, but the title means nothing to the people in their sphere of influence. Instead the name may proclaim a number of different things: judgment, contempt, fear, disengagement, separation, or entitlement. And who would really want to have anything to do with attitudes such as these?
No, there is another way.
I won’t proclaim a title of missionary or even, Christian.
Instead, I will do as the apostles did before me. Because you know what? They didn’t call themselves Christians either! Nope! They called themselves disciples – men, women, and children who were called to be at the side of Jesus Christ.
A disciple is called to know Him.
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4: 19 NIV
A disciple experiences intimacy with Christ.
God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. 1 Corinthians 1:9 NIV
A disciple expresses and experiences joy in Christ.
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. 1 Peter 1: 8 NIV
A disciple continues to walk with Christ and call Him, Friend.
I (Jesus) no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15 NIV
I am a disciple of Christ. I choose to follow Him into a deeper fellowship and a deeper intimacy in order to demonstrate the thoughts, the words, and the deeds of Christ’s love and influence in my life. I want my life to fit within His life.
I will share the Good News that Jesus Christ is the Lord and that He alone is The Answer to every life care, life concern, and life crisis. I have experienced His help, His love, and His care in my life in countless ways.
I have learned that Jesus can be trusted – no matter what.
I have experienced that Jesus loves me and values me – for me!
God does not abandon me; even when I don’t feel Him. I know He is present and at work.
There is an incredible plan and purpose for my life.
Jesus is my strength, my hope, and my joy in good time and yes, in bad times.
Hold on, Brother.
Hold on, Sister.
Hold on, Friend.
Do not let the noise, condemnation, and confusion of the world prevent you from experiencing the purpose, love, strength, and hope of Jesus Christ and all that He has for you on this side of Heaven and beyond.
No, none of us need condemnation, judgment or fear.
What do we need?
We need the hope and joy of Christ. I shared this hope with four different people last week. Now, I am sharing it from house to house with you – I will continue and I will not stop! This is too important. Every person on earth needs to know that Jesus loves them – let this thought, this word, and this work on behalf of Christ continue for as long as we are able.
I won’t call myself ‘Christian.’ Yes, I am a missionary for Christ. But titles don’t mean much. I will instead proclaim the Name of Christ and His love for us all as His disciple and His friend. His Name and His love for all mankind are what I will share with four different people who need such assurance today. I will share the same with whom ever else will listen from house to house and beyond.