You love God, your family, and your friends… but is it getting harder to love your job, the people you work with and minister to?
It’s a rough time to be in ministry. Culture is changing, people are changing, and, while the mission of the Church will never change, you are working to adapt the way you do church in order to move the mission forward. And that is not well received. People don’t like change.
Jesus Loved Differently
The kind of love Jesus brought when he entered this world incarnate is a different kind of love than anyone had seen before. It was of a wholly different substance, stronger and unshakable, and falling indiscriminately on everyone, both the righteous and the unrighteous.
He spoke of his love in the sermon on the mount, toward the beginning of his earthly ministry:
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
This is a perfect love. How can we even begin to live into that kind of love?
Identify your “enemy”
Let’s start right where you are. Who are your enemies? Who is difficult for you to love? Make a private list of people you are struggling to love. Here are some categories that might help you think it through:
- People in your church who want to take a different direction than you
- People in your social circle who seem to be excluding or undermining you
- Ministries or churches in your area that you don’t think are doing ministry right
- Whole groups of people or social classes that you find it hard to understand
- Public figures you don’t know personally, such as authors, speakers, or politicians
- People who disagree with you about any number of things: theology, politics, or standards of behavior
Create a love strategy
Does that sound off? Love should be an overflowing of the heart, right? Jesus was God’s strategic love plan all along. The prophecies, the timing, the work, was all planned by God to show the world his great love.
You too can strategize how you can rise above mere tolerance of people and demonstrate the unconditional love to others that God has lavished on you.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Connecting to Love
Take a moment to meditate on the love that God lavishes on you and how you can demonstrate that love to others.
- How has God shown you that his love is unconditional?
- In what circumstances do you most feel God’s love?
- Who in your life do you believe is confident in your unconditional love for them?
- What behaviors from others make it difficult for you to show them love?
- What needs to be in place for you to feel safe loving difficult people?
- In what ways can you extend God’s unconditional love to others?
An Undivided Heart- This book isn’t an instruction manual with step-by-step procedures. It is a journey, unique to you, that begins with your unique relationship with Jesus. Living with an undivided heart will naturally lead to living an undivided life. Cultivation of the heart flows into action.
“In this era of great disruption, when many congregations and church leaders find programs, and strategic plans in disarray, Logan and Plumb invite the reader to return to the basics upon which the Christian movement is based – how do we like Jesus have a relationship with the Father, and how do we like Jesus love other people, especially those who differ from us, and how do we like Jesus make disciples when it seems like most (but not all) are disinterested.” —Pastor Robert Wallace