Sunday, January 28, 2007

Impossible to Love the Lost

In John Piper’s book “Let the Nations be Glad”, a portion of which I am reading in the Perspectives Reader, he quotes John Dawson, a leader in Youth With a Mission regarding why our passion for people who don’t know Christ (a.k.a. lost people) cannot be detached from our passion for the glory of God.
Many believers search their hearts in condemnation, looking for the arrival of some feeling of benevolence that will propel them into bold evangelism. It will never happen. It is impossible to love “the lost.” You can’t feel deeply for an abstraction or a concept… Don’t wait for a feeling of love in order to share Christ with a stranger. You already love your heavenly Father, and you know that this stranger is created by Him, but separated from Him, so take those first steps in evangelism because you love God. It is not primarily out of a compassion for humanity that we share our faith or pray for the lost; it is first of all, love for God. (Taking Our Cities for God, p 208-209)
I wish I had a nickel for every time I prayed “God give me a burden for the lost.” My hopes being that I would become emotionally moved to the point of being more bold in my witness. Of course, this isn’t a bad prayer, but how many of us are trying to find our motivation in the wrong place? Both Piper and Dawson are suggesting that if we (the church) are not “centered on the exaltation of the majesty and beauty of God” that we will not be able to find the motivation for evangelism. According to Piper, “The great sin of the world is not that the human race has failed to work for God so as to increase his glory, but that we have failed to delight in God so as to reflect his glory.” (p 51) This idea is very liberating for the Christian who is seeking to participate in God’s mission. A passion for God’s glory sustains in suffering, gives us boldness, and reminds us that our “product” is the hope of the world.


Jim C said...

That Piper quote... “The great sin of the world is not that the human race has failed to work for God so as to increase his glory, but that we have failed to delight in God so as to reflect his glory.” (p 51)... is great.

How true.

If you really stop to think about "the lost", you and me and all of the believers around us are at the simplest level only one helpless, heartfelt prayer away from where they are. The only reason we are not among their ranks has nothing to do with our own ability, but rather God's timing and love for us. Set aside which ever side of the fence one might fall on in arguments about predestination and free will etc... the assumption is that we have a responsibility to be Christ like and help share God's love, right?

If we are TRULY thankful that we ourselves have been saved... I'd even say beyond thankful... I'd say "excited"... then why would we want not want to reflect God's compassion (notice I didn't say OUR compassion) and His desire for us to walk with Him with others?

Society has attached so many labels to Christians with passion, that it makes us a little too reserved in my opinion. We are saved for eternity - is that not something to shout from this hilltops?

Granted, my convictions are much stronger than my actions.. and for that I'm not proud. I'll count myself among those that needs to step up to the plate - not because I have a love for the lost, but rather because God has a love for me.

scooterpastor said...

Amen Jim. I'm glad I'm not the only one who was impacted by that quote.

I'll admit that it excited me because I am tired of trying to find the strength within myself to have compassion for people. This only leads to feelings of guilt and inadequacy.

It is a life that is consumed with the glory of God that will spill over into the lives of others. Who wouldn't want a piece of that pie?

PS: Please note that I am not proposing we simply twiddle our thumbs and hope the unchurched world sees us and ask what's up. We need to get off our butts and do something. The beauty of the idea in the post is that our motivation to "do something" can't be our own compassion and/or guilt, but must be our passion to spread the glory of God to all people.