SHOWING THE GOSPEL: LOVE IN ACTION
During my sophomore year of college, I signed up to go on a mission trip to Bolivia. I had recently grown a lot in my faith and was eager to share the gospel with people who were searching for the love and hope that only God can so perfectly fulfill. After months of fundraising, planning, and training for the trip, I flew over the gorgeous mountain ranges of South America to make my way to an orphanage near Cochabamba. As we were hosting a camp to teach all the children in the village about Jesus, I felt a sudden and grueling pain in the back of my leg. I turned around only for the pain to get worse as I realized a stray, mangy dog had latched its teeth into my thigh. In an unexpected turn of events, I was sent home early to receive treatment for rabies at a hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida.
I was feeling so disappointed as I waited for my connecting flight in Santa Cruz. How could God let that stray dog ruin my entire trip? I came here to do something good for God and to share my faith, and He couldn’t even protect me from a deranged pup? As I was trying to make sense of the whole thing in my head, a Bolivian woman with a kind smile came up to me to ask if I was okay. We started talking, she helped me order some food from the delicious airport cafe, and we sat down to eat together. I learned a lot about her over that Salteña. She was strong, but she was hurting. She was brave, but she was anxiously searching for a new life for herself and her two children. I listened, I asked questions, and I prayed for her before we boarded our flight. As it turned out, we were both headed to the same place. We added each other on Facebook, exchanged numbers, and I made plans to go cheer her on at a competition that was ironically taking place down the street from my house. She said this was an incredible coincidence, but I knew God had intended for us to meet in that airport.
READ: John 13:34-35
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Shortly before Jesus was arrested and crucified, He gave this new commandment to His disciples: love one another like Jesus has loved you. Why? Because that’s how people will know that you are a disciple, or a Christian. Jesus instructed us to share the gospel by showing the gospel.
It’s important to recognize that Jesus didn’t just say to love one another. He said to love one another like He has loved you.
God loves you regardless of what you believe.
God loves you regardless of your race, gender, class, or political views.
God loves you even if you don’t love Him back.
God loves you even when you’ve made mistakes and done Him wrong.
God loves you personally.
God loves you intentionally.
God loves you unconditionally.
When you care for others like Jesus cares for you, they notice. They notice you including the student who is usually left out, sticking up for the student who is usually put down, befriending people outside of your usual clique, speaking words of encouragement, reaching out, being there, going out of your way, helping those in need, and building others up. Your actions can show people what the gospel is all about: God’s radical love.
You may not always have the opportunity to share the gospel in words, but you always have the option to demonstrate the gospel through your actions. When I was sent home early from my mission trip, I thought my opportunity to share the gospel was over. I was leaving before I had my turn to teach the kids about Jesus and tell them about the salvation He offers. Then, I met that sweet Bolivian woman with the kind smile. I simply listened to her, encouraged her, prayed for her, and then showed up to support her. It’s been five years since God brought us together in that Santa Cruz airport. Now we are like family. We’ve celebrated some of life’s most exciting moments together, and we’ve cried together through some of life’s heartbreaks. She and her daughter asked me to be part of their baptisms this year, and I cried as I lifted them out of the water as they declared Jesus to be Lord of their lives. We’ve all grown in our faith and awe of Jesus because of how we’ve loved each other.
Love in action can make all the difference. You don’t always need the perfect words or all the answers. Just start to share your faith by sharing God’s love. By this, they will know you are a follower of Jesus.
TALK IT OUT
Go through these questions with your circle. Be honest. Be open. Talk through the tough stuff.
Q1: Who is the most loving person you know? What kind of actions do they take that make them stand out?
Q2: How can your actions point people towards God?
Q3: What would it look like to love others just like Jesus loves us?
Q4: Do you think people know you’re a Christian? Does the way you treat others share an accurate representation of God’s love?
Q5: Pick one family member, one friend, and one stranger you can intentionally love like Jesus this week. What can you do for them?