Friday, January 12, 2007

What Are You Going To Do About It?

"What are you going to do about it?"
This question was posed to me by RC in the comments section of the last post. Great question RC! It is relatively easy to pose the right questions, but it requires more of us to actually answer them. I appreciate someone being willing to look beyond good sounding ideas to practical implementations of the same.

There are two different ways to take this question. Within this one question I actually see two:
1. What are you going to do to help the Church make the shift from an obsession with orthodoxy to an out-working of orthopraxy?

2. What are you going to do personally to bridge your own gap between your beliefs and actions?
I hope that at least one of these represents RC's question to me.

First, I would like to answer question number one. For myself, I would like to think that my interaction with other people (believers and non-believers) would be characterized by love rather than by cliquishness brought about by doctrinal exclusivity. I am making the decision to "love without a hook". That is, I want to love others unconditionally just as my Father has loved me.

In the Church, love is said to be unconditional, but alot of the time I do not find this to be the case. Many times "love" is only given when one chooses to tow the party-line, or submit to whomever is in charge.

Evangelism is one area that I believe could benefit from more unconditional love. I am reminded of an example from my own life; I used to go "witness" on the streets of my local town at least once a week. While I would be "sharing the Gospel" with people, I would often say "the reason that I'm sharing this with you is because I love you." The truth, however, was that I was out there "sharing the Gospel" with them because I thought that I had to in order to keep God happy with me. I would preach, call for a decision, and then walk away. My evangelism was not motivated by love; rather, it proceeded from a guilty conscience.

I believe that as the Body of Christ, we need to grasp the fact that God loves us unconditionally prior to trying to "share" the Gospel with others. Most of what I see within the Church is a bunch of people doing good deeds (evangelism, teaching Sunday School, cleaning the church building, etc.) to try to keep God "off of their backs." As long as we are not receiving God's unconditional love, there is no way that we can give it to others. Our good works end up proceeding from a heart that is trying to please God instead of a heart that rests in a constant state of experiencing God's pleasure. This is not a peripheral problem, but rather a fundamental one. We either believe that Jesus' sacrifice placed us into a right relationship with God, or we don't. If we are constantly trying to measure up, trying to earn God's favor or love, then it seems to me that we are not trusting in what Jesus did and therefore refuse to believe that "it is finished".

If we help people only to ease our conscience, then once we feel that we have "done our part", we will drop the ball and go back to life as usual. This reveals that our good works really were more about us than about the person in need. But, if we really love people as a result of God's having first loved us, then we are willing to stick with that person as long as it takes. One question I have to ask myself is: "If I knew that this person would never respond to the call of Christ for his/her life, would I still be willing to show them the same amount of love and service?" If my answer is no, then I am really manipulating them instead of showing them love. Love is not about getting people to jump into my boat, rather it is about meeting that person's needs without regard to their response.

In response to question number two, I would like to say that while I am not doing everything I can to bridge that gap, I believe that I am on my way. My wife and I have been discussing what we can do to live this out. We are currently making active plans to impact the lives of hurting people in real ways. I wish I could go into more detail, but I don't feel that I am at liberty to do so at this time, and in reality, it isn't about "tooting my horn" for Jesus anyway. On a practical level, I believe that, as ded said, each of us has to wrestle with this question personally and hear from God for ourselves. The same mission exists for us all, but our specific directions for carrying it out can only come from the mouth of the Father. What do you all you think?


Tony said...


Great follow-up to the previous post. I think you are correct when you allude to the fact that that the church has failed in loving.

For all the talk about love, you would think that we would have that down pat by now. And even if we don't love perfectly, we ought to at least understand the priority of love. Love ought to inundate everything we do, not just as the Body, but as individual Christians.

We talk a good game about love, but the accompanying message seems to emphasize correctness before love. I don't need to pull out 1 Cor 13 here, do I?

No, but we do have a proclivity to misprioritize love and place it beneath faith, hope, and virtually everything else. Its sad but too often our love is shallow and cold and we get trapped by a to-do list instead of being constrained by the love of Christ.

Doctrinal correctness is important; I do not deny that. But is the spirit in which I "correct" another a spirit of Christ-like love, not self-justification and a desire to be found correct? Love has to always lead. Always.

Great post!

Alan Knox said...


As I was reading your post, Mark's accound of the "Rich, Young Ruler" came to mind. Mark explains that Jesus loved the young man. And yet, the young man walked away. Do I love people even if they walk away? Will I continue loving them (and demonstrate that love) if they reject me? Thank you for this post!


Raborn Johnson said...


You said:

Doctrinal correctness is important; I do not deny that. But is the spirit in which I "correct" another a spirit of Christ-like love, not self-justification and a desire to be found correct? Love has to always lead. Always.

Great point! I agree. I think that many times we are just more concerned about being proven correct than to actually correct someone from a motive that is for their good.


The Rich Young Ruler is a great example of Jesus loving someone who was not "signing up for the cause." I think that it is so interesting that Mark notes that "Jesus loved him". It seems like a side-note, but the more I think about it, the more it seems like those three words actually are the point! To me, Calvary-like love is displayed by a willingness to be cursed and spat upon while continuing to genuinely love those who wish only evil for you. Thanks for stopping by!