“I just want to love on people”
So often people use this phrase to describe their desire to do mission work…but what does it really mean?
Western culture has shifted away from the notion that Christians and Missionaries are synonymous with one another. Churches support missionaries and talk about missionaries but no longer teach that the call of EVERY Christian is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. If only some Christians are missionaries, then it means that pastors and teachers don’t have to invest as much time in the actual discipling of believers, but instead can focus on giving a good message and a good sermon to emotionally charge followers into action.
This is not to suggest that it is wrong or negative to challenge believers to act rather than remain passive, but when Christians are raised to believe that only “extreme” Christians are missionaries, then any call to action is going to fall on deaf ears.
When the disciples were first sent out by Christ, the sole purpose of their calling was to bring the gospel to Jew and Gentile alike, for those that had never heard it before. Jesus words were “Go therefore and make disciples…” not “go therefore and love on people.”
John 13:35 says that “by this all men will KNOW that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” but that was not the goal of the call that Christ set before them.
So many scriptures use the phrase have love rather than just show love. If we can speak in the tongues of angels and men but have not love then we are nothing but noise.
While these statements are all true, the Church has sorely forgotten their first love, and so completely misunderstood its role in hastening Christ’s return.
When people are taught to just “love on others” what they are actually being taught is that if we demonstrate human love to other people, they will somehow attribute that to Christ or magically come to that understanding.
Scriptures say that Christ IS love and therefore we have our priorities backwards. The goal is not show love so that Christ may be revealed, but to show Christ so that love (Christ IS love) may be revealed.
Any human can show an amount of “love” (phileos, eros, etc) and still not know Christ. An atheist can show kindness or things perceived as “love” and still not know the author of love.
Jesus Christ loved us first so that we might begin to understand what love even is. The love of God (agape) is an unconditional love that is impossible for a human being to demonstrate. The only way someone can begin to “love on others” is if they first have been filled by the Holy Spirit and KNOW the author of love. Yet rather than sending those equipped by Christ out into the world to do kingdom work by spreading the gospel, we are subjecting the world to Christian complacency by sending people who till the ground, fertilize it, plow it, and work it…but never plant seeds.
And He told them many things in parables (stories by way of illustration and comparison), saying, A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell by the roadside, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil; and at once they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched, and because they had no root, they dried up and withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them out. Other seeds fell on good soil, and yielded grain—some a hundred times as much as was sown, some sixty times as much, and some thirty. -Matthew 13:3-8
This parable is not just about the 4 kinds of soil. The truth is, if the sower had come out…and done the work to break up the roadside, the rocky ground, and the shallow soil, and did so until it became like the good soil, but never put any seed in it….NOTHING would grow in all 4 soils.
The goal of Christianity (while here on earth) is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ as we make disciples that, in turn, make more disciples. The goal was never to do humanitarian work and hope that people would some day would approach our timidity and profess their faith in Christ. We have gone from sending out disciples to sending out “mission trippers” who merely want an “experience” so that they can feel passionate about something they did.
The same mistake was made by the Jews nearly 2000 years ago. They begged for works, signs, and wonders rather than recognizing the truth that was standing directly in front of them.
Friends, the truth is simple: If we do not share the gospel with everyone we are called to be in relationship with, then simply “loving on them” will not avail to much. Christians are commanded to love one another, and the only reason they can do so, is because they know Christ.
If you profess that your life is hidden in Christ, then it is your privilege and honor, to tell everyone about the one who brought you from death to eternal life. There is no amount of human love that could ever compare to what Christ is done. So stop “loving on” people and starting introducing them to true love.