As Christ’s witnesses, we are called to a seemingly impossible task. We are asking the world to lay down the things that are most dear to them: their sins. In their eyes, the Christian walk — a life of purity and holiness — looks like a form of slavery. Our idea of heaven seems to them more like hell. When they hear us talk about the gospel, it is an offence to their lifestyle. Christ’s gospel calls them to repent of the sins they love, to repent of rejecting the God who died for them on a cross. It calls for a life of holiness, when for years they’ve tried to silence their conscience, to kill any notion there might be a coming day of reckoning.
Christ’s gospel also tells them their own personal goodness cannot merit eternal life. It asks the self-made man to die to himself and his selfish ambitions, and to give his life for others. It declares that his own sense of integrity is nothing in God’s sight. Such a gospel is a threat to his pearl of great price: his personal achievements, the things he has worked long and hard to obtain. If you tell him his righteousness does not merit salvation, he will despise you. During his final time with the disciples before his crucifixion, Jesus warned, “Some of you will be rejected, some will be imprisoned, and some will be killed. All of you will be persecuted” (see John 16:2).
At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love another” (John 13:34). Note this was not an option, it was a commandment. And it is where every evangelistic effort must begin. According to Jesus, only this particular love — a love for fellow believers — will gain the attention of a lost generation. It is the same kind of self-denying, sacrificial love that Jesus shows to each of us. Such love for our kin in Christ cannot be accomplished in word alone, but must be in deed.
The world needs illustrated sermons — powerful personal examples — of God’s love. In John 17:21, Jesus made this prayer: “That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
Dear saint, obey his new commandment and remember his Word: “By this all men will know you are mine” (see John 13:35). Love others as Jesus loves them and watch as God works through that love.