Charity begins at home …but it mustn’t stay there.

How to Win the Lost There is a conviction among many Christians that our first obligation is to the lost.  There’s a Christian couple I know who are in ministry, whose husband’s parents are believers; the wife’s parents are not. The couple caters to the wife’s parents over the husbands since, “It’s our Christian duty to lead them to Christ.” They put them first, leaving the husband’s parents feeling neglected at times.

WWJD?  I understand the couple’s attitude, but is it biblical? The couple answers, “Of course! There’s the great commission. Our obligation is to witness to the lost.” But is this what Jesus meant by witnessing? Once, while ministering to a crowd, he was told that his family was outside, wanting to speak to him. They had not yet accepted Him as Messiah. So, you would expect he would run out to them, lest he put a stumbling block before them. He did the opposite.  Pointing to his (believing) disciples, he said“Here is my family. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:49). How rude, you say? Yet it was fully consistent with all he taught and did.

Sheep and Goats Often we hear justification for feeding the hungry out in the world by reference to Jesus’ parable of the sheep and goats. He welcomed the sheep because, “Even as you did it to the least of the lost, you did it to me?” No? Right! He was clear…as you did it to the least of my brethren.” It’s a great thing to feed hungry people, but not if we jump over and exclude the needy among us. That is NOT what Jesus would do.

While overseas I participated in bringing food to Buddhists. A few did get baptized. In time these came to be known as “rice Christians,” because they were attracted to the rice, not to Christ.  We can’t bribe people to follow Christ, but we can incarnate his love among ourselves. Let’s face it, it’s easier loving people we only brush shoulders with than those we must deal with in everyday life.  It takes the power of God’s Holy Spirit to do that.

Attraction not Promotion. Jesus had a crucial point to make to his disciples. They would soon have the  job of leading His church. Love and loyalty towards fellow members, just like in any family, was priority. Jesus knew the key to bringing others into a family, is not to cater to them, but draw them by being a loving example of what true family life is all about.  

Growing up, I had a neighbor friend, Judy, who was an only child. I rarely saw her parents smile. While we were far from perfect, she saw how my Dad spent quality time with us and had fun with us. Later she wrote, “How often I wished I was in your family instead of mine. ”This is consistent with Jesus’ New Covenant command, “Love one another as I have loved you.” It is by our mutual love, not our worship, doctrines or outreach programs that draws people to Jesus. Loving one another means embracing brethren from other traditions and co-operating with them in ministry.

Lift Jesus Higher. “If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.” (John 12: 32 ). Jesus refers to his death on the cross, the supreme act of God’s love. The Greek word (elkow) means I attract fish into a net. To be fishers of men requires the right bait. Jesus knew the best bait of the kingdom, is the love we show each other and then to others. The meaning of the Greek word “lift up” (hupsow) is “I exalt.” We do exalt Christ through worship. But we also exalt him when we model His love among ourselves. I used to think our worship could somehow draw others to Christ. But that’s plain silly. The world neither sees nor cares about our prayers and sermons. But they would sit up and take notice if they witnessed extreme examples of Christ’s sacrificial love being lived out among us.

What the World Needs to See is love sweet love.  John hits the nail on the head when he says, “How can I say I love God who I can’t see, if I don’t love my brother who I can see.” (I John 4: 18)

Pray with us for this message of Jesus neglected command to be published abroad.