Love Matters, Part 1
We have quoted a most startling passage of Scripture so often it sometimes ceases to amaze us.
“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Revealing the love of the Heavenly Father for His lost creation was not an option for Jesus. The Father loved the Son, and the Son loved the Father. And they both loved humanity. Love compelled Jesus to act. Love matters!
And so, on a mission that love compelled, Jesus showed us how God would act in this world. By revealing the love of God in everyday interactions, Jesus gave us a glimpse of His character.
But next time you quote John 3:16, don’t just stop there. Because just as Jesus had a heaven-sent mission, so do you and so do I. Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21). Our special mission is woven through the Three Angels' Messages of Revelation 14. The world needs it because it is the everlasting gospel, the good news empowered through the Spirit of God for the salvation of humanity.
That’s what we have pastors and evangelists for, right? Well, yes, but they’re only part of the team. Mission should be at the core of who we are as a community of believers. We cannot outsource it, hand it off to our pastors or expect some new technology to do it for us. And, why would we want to miss out on the joy of connecting people with Jesus?
Yes, of course, mission in America today is different than in past generations. Our current tribal environment means many people are hostile to anyone who does not agree with them. And, yet, the core mission of John 3:16 provides what so many miss deep down in their core — the love of God. Love still matters today, perhaps more than ever.
Love matters because it impacts real life, like in this story from our own North Pacific Union territory. A family member was tragically killed. The family was naturally very angry and did not want anything to do with God. However, one distant relative began to reach out with small acts of kindness and love. Through loving persistence, he eventually earned the right to speak to the family about a God who also hurt after He lost a Son, a God who hurts with every death of the human family. Hardened hearts began to soften. Today several members of the family have given their hearts to Jesus and are baptized members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Love matters.
Charles Spurgeon said Christians who do not engage the world with the gospel are like those who have a treasure but hold on to it: “The world is starving, and they hoard the bread of life.” Spurgeon believed that neglecting our mission is on par with the vilest heresies in the history of the church. Hearts that do not bring Christ to the world prove they do not actually love Christ: “If they loved Christ they must love sinners; if they loved Jesus they must seek to extend His kingdom and to let Him see the travail of His soul!”
So, why has our NPUC executive committee voted to explore new ways to reach young people, encouraging our churches to experience the Growing Young cohort? Why are we eager to see our churches and members revitalized, connecting their communities with Jesus through the Vision 2020 concept and other efforts? Because God so loved us. He has placed that love in our hearts and set us on a mission to love others for Him. Love moves us to action. Love moves us forward together on this common mission. Love matters!