To do whatever it takes to connect people to a loving God through the saving work of Jesus Christ.
Am I loving my neighbor?
Our greatest testimony to the world is the irrational consistency with which we communicate God’s love. This is not theoretical or even theological discussion about God’s love, but the practice of showing God’s love in selfless and sacrificial ways. God commands us to love every single person regardless of their past, their race, age, gender, or affiliations. We are even commanded to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. There is no place for hatred, envy, revenge, or even selfishness in the life of the Christ-follower. The example of Christ is to seek out those in need and to be a blessing. Why? We love because God has shown us how to love and given us a reason to love. He loved us even though we were sinners. We love because we want to be like our Father and our Savior.
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
1 John 4:7-12
Our challenge is to love God so desperately and love people so consistently that the world cannot deny the supernatural selflessness that is unique to the transformed life. It is hard to predict the ways that this value will be lived out in your daily life. One day you will feel compelled to walk across the street and strike up a conversation with a new neighbor. Another day you may have a strange desire to offer assistance to a co-worker. Often we show God’s love in a million tiny acts of selflessness. Other times God asks us to make great sacrifice. Every time we become a bit more like Him.
Am I going to the lost?
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
In this statement Jesus gives the disciples and us a strategy to make disciples throughout the world. He defines four people groups that we are to passionately concern ourselves with.
Here–Jerusalem represents my natural spheres of influence. It starts in my home and family and acquaintances. Our first response to God’s grace and healing should be to verbally share our testimony with those close to us. This process is not only important for the benefit of our loved ones, but is an important part of anchoring to the commitment we’ve made. The more I hear myself verbalize my love and gratitude to Christ, the more rooted those truths are in my heart. Plus, the people that I love should know the truth about Christ.
Near–Judea represents those that are geographically near and culturally similar to me. There are people all around north Georgia and the south that are very much like you, with the same values, traditions, and worldview. These are people that we can create strategies to reach, both as a Church and as individuals. How can I show Christ to…the bank teller...the pest control man…the clerk…the real estate agent…the single mom…the elusive neighbor? How can the body of Christ touch every business, home, and person in our area? This initiative requires us to be tuned into the Spirit of God to discern windows of opportunity. As an ambassador for Christ we must be actively seeking opportunities to spread His fame and to share His heart. This is the natural result of living life with eternity in view.
There–Samaria represents those that are geographically near, but culturally different. The strategy of Jesus becomes more challenging and intentional at this point. It is hard enough to reach out to people that are like me and that I can relate to, but even more uncomfortable to intentionally connect with those different than me. The differences could range from ethnicity and socio-economics to worldview and education. The commonality is that God loves those people “over there” just as much as me! Jesus was consistently drawn to the broken and outcast. Why? He said, “It’s the sick that need a doctor.” On a practical level, the further we get out of our comfort zones, the more God’s heart can be seen. When Jesus laid His hand on the leper or talked with the Samaritan woman, the oddity of His actions caused others to see the heart of God. God is passionate about all people. I must find ways to bridge cultural divides for the sake of the Gospel.
Everywhere–To the ends of the earth represents the entire world. Wherever there are people there needs to be someone teaching them about Jesus. Traditionally the Church has sent out “missionaries” into remote places and financed the adventures. We believe that every believer is equally responsible for the advancement of the Gospel. Each person’s SHAPE will help determine his or her primary roles or modes of contributing to the Kingdom. However, there is no reason to believe that some Christians are called to be passionate about lost people around the world, while others are called to be unconcerned. The great commission does not distinguish between adventurous personality types and homebodies. We are all called to devote our lives and resources and abilities to the global advancement of God’s Kingdom, the Church. How God decides to use you is His business, but it is clear that He wants to use you to change this world.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20
We are Christ’s ambassadors. We are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). After thinking through the different people groups each of us will likely become aware of the challenge that is before us. A staggering 70 percent of the world’s population is still lost. An even more staggering 41 percent of the world’s population has never heard the gospel. We have a lot of work to do! The question has always been, who is going to go? Who is going to take the risk? Who is going to distribute the Bibles? Who is going to love the unlovely? Who is going to raise the orphan? Who is going to take hope to the hopeless?
These are tough questions, but they must be asked. And if we have the courage to face these daunting questions, maybe we will find that God has an exciting plan for each of us. The fact is, we are all called to reach this world.
Eastridge supports some wonderful ministries and missionaries locally and globally.* There are many opportunities to be involved in reaching out to the lost and hurting here, near, there, and everywhere.
(For a complete list of the Ministry Opportunities at Eastridge click HERE - For Missions Opportunities, click HERE.)