He Came to Say, "I Love You."
That's not the picture that everyone has of Jesus. UnChristian (David Kinnaman, Baker Books) reveals that people think the church is hypocritical, antihomosexual, too political, and judgmental, among other things. And many unbelievers develop their impression of Jesus from their impression of us. Many people who are not of us, don't believe that we like them, much less love them. Therefore, they don't understand that Jesus loves them. They think he came to condemn!
Maybe some of us are part of the body not because we believe that we are loved. Maybe we are in the body mostly because we are trying to escape condemnation. It's OK to want to escape condemnation, and Christ is certainly the way. It's not OK, though, to think that you need to be a Christian to escape condemnation because Jesus is so eager to judge and condemn.
If you've wondered about this, you are not alone. John recorded this significant truth, "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him" (John 3:17). And the most famous verse in the Bible, just before this great truth, reveals God's motive for sending Jesus to save, "God so loved the world."
I've gotten to read a couple of things recently that teach this message of God's love. In Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller recalls the questions of his friend Penny about the love of Jesus. "Penny began to wonder if Christianity, were it a person, might in fact like her," he wrote. That was significant for Penny because she wasn't at all what she perceived the television preachers/political figures to be. She thought that Jesus was like them, so she thought Jesus probably wouldn't like her. Then, in The Shack, as William Young writes about the dream of his friend Mac, he recorded the words of Papa, "I'm especially fond of you." Do you believe that God is especially fond of you? Do you let the love of Christ shine in you so that others will know that Jesus does, in fact, like them?
Are you a follower because "Christ's love compels you" (2 Corinthians 5:14) or because you are trying to escape his condemnation. He came to say, "I love you." He didn't have to come to condemn. We were already there. He came because of his love to save us.
We can quit debating whether the unbeliever's perception of us is true. If we are the lover, it is our responsibility to show it. If they don't know it, we have to communicate differently. Some may never get it, but we have to keep trying! Jesus has never ever given up!
That's Life at Work!