• Steven Marsh

The Unconditional Love of the Triune God Beckons Us To Serve–The Power of Unconditional Love i

Jesus says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”[1]Jesus invites us into a lifestyle of risk for the common good. We are to “Risk traveling lightly. Risk rejection and welcome. Risk protest and proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom, which is coming near to every circumstance.”[2]

People are hurting, lonely, isolated, oblivious, happy, fulfilled, yet lacking something, and we are invited by Jesus to risk traveling lightly, rejection and welcome, protest and proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom, which is coming near to every circumstance, when we take human need seriously. Chris Heuertz is the international director of Word Made Flesh, an organization that helps the world’s poor. He tells the story of walking the streets of Kolkata, India. Along with his wife and three friends, he stumbles across a person lying under a filthy, fly infested blanket. There was a trail of diarrhea leading up to where the person was under the blanket. Heuertz writes:

My pal Josh tapped the body on the shoulder to see if the person was dead. The body moved. Josh pulled the blanket down from the face that it covered to see a helpless young man, maybe twenty-two years old and visibly stunned by our approach. As soon as he realized we were there to help him, he began weeping uncontrollably. A crowd gathered. He continued to cry. We didn’t have much to work with, but our friend Sarah grabbed a bottle of water and some newspaper. She began cleaning the young man, wiping the diarrhea off with the newspaper and rinsing him with the water. We asked him his name. Tutella Dhas. He was lost, afraid, alone. His body was a leathery-skinned skeleton, and his bulging eyes accentuated the shape of his skull. He kept crying. We tried to get a taxi, but none would stop. The crowd grew. No one wanted to help. Two more friends happened to be walking down the street just then, and they were able to find a taxi. They took Tutella Dhas with them and headed off to Mother Teresa’s House for the Dying. Phileena, Sarah, Josh, and I stood there in disbelief. I lifted my head and caught sight of a church and its sign less than five feet where we found the dying Tutella Dhas. The sign read, “All are welcome here.” It may have been what inspired someone to drop Tutella in front of the church. But was he welcome? People from the church watched as we helped Tutella, yet the gate remained closed.[3]

The texts in 2 Kings 5:1-14, Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 and Galatians 6:7-16 speak to the reality of crisis and stress in life. Here’s the bottom line: resting in God’s unconditional love for you mitigates the negative impact of crisis and stress and propels you to risk traveling lightly, rejection and welcome, protest and proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom, which is coming near to every circumstance. The story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5 demonstrates that the maidservant who is somewhat a prisoner of war because she was trafficked by a group of Aramean soldiers is used by God to heal the successful commander of the king of Aram’s army who had leprosy. Both faced the crisis of such a meeting and its stress. Luke 10 reminds us that the kingdom of God is always near. Address “the other” and its inherent crisis and stress for the sake of the kingdom of God. And in his letter to the Christians in Galatia, Paul faces the crisis and stress of preaching good news to the Gentiles. He received ridicule and persecution from the leaders of Judaism. Each of the texts summons us to risk traveling lightly, rejection and welcome, protest and proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom, which is coming near to every circumstance.[4]

On Thursday, July 4th, our country celebrated the 243rdanniversary of the Declaration of Independence. By issuing the Declaration of Independence, the thirteen American colonies severed political connections with Great Britain. Our forefathers and mothers did risk traveling lightly, rejection and welcome, protest and proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom, which is coming near to every circumstance. Samuel P. Huntington, in his book Who Are We? makes the assertion that in post-September 11 America, our flag does not convey any meaning of America. “The explicit visual message of the Stars and Stripes is simply that America is a country that originally had thirteen and currently has fifty states. Beyond that, Americans, and others, can read into the flag any meaning they want.”[5]As a nation are, we a “we?” We must live the plan for our country as outlined in the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and the Constitution. We are a nation based on Judeo-Christian values. We are a nation forged in the crisis and stress of embracing and engaging one another to live these values.

Jesus invites us to risk traveling lightly, rejection and welcome, protest and proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom, which is coming near to every circumstance for the common good. We are loved by God. We are to love God and others. This is the context for evangelism. John Stott writes, “The word mission…is properly a comprehensive word, embracing everything that God sends his people into the world to do. It therefore includes evangelism and social responsibility, since both are authentic expressions of the love that longs to serve others in their need.”[6]Let’s proclaim, in word and deed, the good news of God’s unconditional love.

God’s unconditional love beckons each one of us to allow God to serve us and we in turn to serve others in times of crisis and stress. Rest in God’s unconditional love for you. Make service, loving “the other,” your paradigm for living. Risk traveling lightly. Risk rejection and welcome. Risk protest and proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom, which is coming near to every circumstance.

[1]Luke 10:2

[2]Hierald E. Osorto in Joel B. Green, Thomas G. Long, Luke A. Powery and Cynthia L. Rigby, editors, Connections, Year C, Volume 3 (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2019),140.

[3]Christopher L. Heuertz, Simple Christianity (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 61-62.

[4]My thinking in this paragraph has been shaped by Carol J. Dempsey, OP, Stanley P. Saunders, Hierald E. Osorto and John M. Buchanan in Joel B. Green, Thomas G. Long, Luke A. Powery and Cynthia L. Rigby, editors, Connections, Year C, Volume 3 (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2019),127-128, 138-140, 140-142 and 135-137.

[5]Samuel P. Huntington, Who Are We? (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004), 8-9.

[6]John Stott and Christopher J. H. Wright, Christian Mission in the Modern World (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2015), 58.

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