A Letter about Love
Over the years I have found that one of the best ways for me to solidify a truth for myself is to try to express it to someone else. In this case the "someone else" was a newly born-again college student who had shared at our church about her experience of beach evangelism. The following is an excerpt from that letter.
Maybe what I should just do is share my story with you. I, too, received Jesus into my heart in college through a campus ministry. The group didnít exist on our campus, however; they had come from a nearby university to share. Consequently, there was no follow-up and I didnít really learn how to grow at all. So I donít really count my life in Christ as beginning until I was twenty-four. At that time I said "Yes" to God again. The lights went on, the music started, and I fell in love with Jesus! I didnít know any praise songs so I "recycled" love songs to sing to Him. It was a wonderful time in my life.
Over the years I attended some really good Bible-teaching churches. I was constantly involved in some Bible study or another. I got the message loud and clear that my first priority in life should be to share the gospel. I usually felt guilty because I just wasnít doing that the way I thought I was expected to. (If I had been observant and honest I would have realized that I had never known a believer who was doing that the way I thought we were expected to.)
In 1995 a major life-changing experience happened in my life. I fell in love with Jesus again. Suddenly I felt so loved by Him. His love for me made my love for Him explode. All this love spilled out onto the people close to me. Relationships changed without my even trying. What was happening was that all of what I had been believing I should be as a Christian was shaken out and the only thing left was pure and simple devotion to Christ (II Corinthians 11:3).
And thatís why I wanted to write to you. Dear sister, donít feel condemned because it is hard for you to share. Consider that perhaps you arenít personally responsible for the salvation of everyone you meet. God is big. He has a plan for every person He ever made. His plan for you is to be who He created you to be. You are uniquely wonderful in His sight. He has a whole set of good works prepared for you to do (Ephesians 2:10). They just might not look like the good works other Christians are doing. They might not be what other Christians tell you good works are. (I notice that confident people tend to think good works are whatever they are doing. Insecure people tend to think good works are what the confident people are doing!) But a good work might look like a long walk alone with Him, just talking and listening and being with Him; it might be smiling at an old lady who is lonely; or forgiving somebody who is rude to you in the checkout line; or painting a picture the Spirit puts in your mind. And, yes, it will probably look like sharing the good news with someone.
Jesus says the first and greatest commandment is to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37-38). It takes time to grow into loving like that. We were created for that purpose though. ThatóHe--is the main thing.
The second commandment is the second commandment. He put it second because He knew it would be impossible if we tried to do it first. We cannot love each other before we love Him. And we cannot love Him unless we know He loves us (I John 4:19).
Know that He loves you. Spend time letting the fact of that sink into your heart. Pray Ephesians 3:16-19 for yourself. Let Jesus take you out for an ice cream sundae. (I'm serious!) Nothing brings us freedom from ourselves like being loved--especially when itís being loved by God.
The sharing with others will happen. I do not discount our need to be prepared, to even be intentional about our sharing. But being open to the Spiritís creativity and leading is the most important thing. Your sharing might not happen with a specific tract in hand. It might happen because someone observed God in you and youíll never even know it. Then there will be times Heíll nudge you to talk to someone and youíll feel all tongue-tied and worry that youíre going to fall flat on your face. If you do it anyway--because youíre in love with Him--even if it seems like you botched it youíll let Him pick you up and dust you off and give you a hug and youíll be on your way again. If you do it anyway--because you feel like you have to to be a good Christianóthen, if it seems like you botched it, youíll be devastated and feel unworthy and think that God is probably disappointed in you.
I guess what I am all about here is that I want to spare you from the unnecessary condemnation I lived with for years just because I listened to the evil one telling me I didnít measure up instead of listening to our good God telling me He loved me and that it was all about Him anyway.
Enjoy your wonderful new Friend. May you experience every ounce of the abundant life!
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