A Greek writer named Lucian, who lived around A.D. 120-200, once said this of the early Christians:
It is incredible to see the fervor with which the people of that religion help each other in their wants. They spare nothing. Their first legislator [Jesus] has put it into their heads that they are all brethren.
Jenn recently confessed she never really associated everything Jesus “put into [our] heads” to do—for our fellow believers and for others—with love. She associated things like feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting those in prison, with a “to-do” list—things she was supposed to do because, well, that’s what Jesus said to do.
Can you relate at all to Jenn? But then she realized that Jesus didn’t give us a to-do list. He gave us just one command:
One command I give you: Love one another as I have loved you.
Now loving one another as Jesus loved us certainly may end up looking just like Jesus described—feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting the prisoners, among other things—but LOVE is not “doing for God” to make sure we remain in right standing with him. Doing LOVE, as Jesus described, comes from being filled with Jesus’ love. And that kind of love gives the person next to us a glimpse of the Father.
Galatians 5:6 says this:
For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.
Loving others opens the way.
Why do you love?
Acts of love open the way for believers to share the gospel by making the world curious. In time, when our acts are motivated and filled with the love of Jesus, people will ask “Why?”
Why did you go so far out of your way to help me?
I’ve never had someone listen to me this way before. What makes you different from everyone else?
I can tell that you really care about the people we are trying to help, even when they aren’t easy to work with. Why?
This situation seems hopeless. What keeps you going?
These questions are incredible opportunities for an answer that invites more conversation. When Jesus is the One who is filling you, motivating you, helping you to love, and keeping you going, you can share that what you are doing is really all because of him.
The best response
David Cho, pastor of the largest Christian church in South Korea, has given the people of his church a very specific response to the question of Why did you do this thing? He tells them to say this: “I am a disciple of Jesus. I am serving him by serving you, because that’s what he came to do.”
This is a brilliant response!
Loving service in Jesus’ name demonstrates what the love of Christ and being his disciple actually looks like.
Loving service in Jesus’ name makes the truth visible.
Loving and serving our neighbors—as well as participating in acts of service and love together alongside them—might provide the best way to share the gospel with someone who believes differently than we do, because we can tell them precisely why we’re doing it.