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A Dangerous People
by Cate Russell-Cole
6/19/2015 / Christian Living
Being around other Christians isn't always easy. In church life, I have experienced many hurts and disappointments, and sometimes, the last people I want to be seen with are other Christians. We aren't the kind of people we should be. The world isn't just persecuting us when we're called hypocritical. Sometimes we deserve it, and I am as guilty as anyone else.
Because I have been hurt in the past, I can feel like hanging back from forming relationships with people God has asked me to pray for. I have wanted to hide behind a shallow, friendly exterior in which I have space to protect myself. I thought this was reasonable, but it didn't take long for the Holy Spirit to challenge me on my thinking. As a counsellor, I worked on the concept of professional distance. As intercessory prayer is draining, this seemed like a reasonable precaution against getting too involved. However, God works His church on a more radical principle: the principle of love and unity. In the Bible it fits together as an awe-inspiring picture of the kind of people we can be. In practice, we fall so short of the mark that society is littered with ex-Christians who won't touch a church anymore because they haven't experienced Godly unity and love. The whole problem with love is it leaves us vulnerable. We are open to hurt and disappointment because we have opened our hearts. Yet a church with no open heart is not worth being a part of. It will destroy more than it nurtures. So there was my challenge: to be a destroyer or a nurturer.
While I was struggling with the challenge, I was watching a documentary on the life that lived around deep sea 'ocean chimneys' in the Pacific Ocean. These are volcanic vents that release lava from the earth's core. It seems logical that nothing could live in the bottom of the ocean as there is no light, which is essential for life to exist. However life does thrive there, in the boiling water around lava flows. The scientists think that the heat acts like sunlight to allow creatures to survive. I was fascinated that life can survive in boiling water, and the idea of heat caught my attention. If life needs heat to survive, what about cold-blooded creatures? Researching further I found that cold blooded creatures have chemical reactions in their body that mimic the effects of heat. God's creation was in one way or the other geared to reach for the light and warmth or it wouldn't exist. I started to realise that I was trying to act in an unnatural way if I thought I could live in a church without giving attention to heat. We are all designed to live in warmth or love. It was impossible to outrun the need for love, and an act of utter selfishness to be unwilling to give it.
The Lord began to open my eyes to the power of agape, sacrificial love. I began to see than one of the major needs of both the saved and unsaved is love. If as a church we were able to fulfill God's vision and unselfishly and reliably love one another, then that more than any preaching, would draw in the lost. We would become a dangerous people the enemy couldn't stop. The church in the books of Acts drew in many people as they loved and took care of each other. There was community, bonding and a genuiness that was not found anywhere else. That is what drew people, not a new philosophy or radical lifestyle. It was the love. If I truly wanted to reach out and touch people, and subsequently cripple the plans of the enemy, I had to love. I had to give what I felt was too risky, and be prepared to be hurt, ready or not.
We say we want to reach the world. We go to church, shake a few hands and then walk out without getting involved in what is happening in other people's hearts and lives. Sure there is a risk in making deeper connections, but if we don't do it, we are not harnessing the strongest life-giving power available to us. Love should be given freely with no expectation that it will be reciprocated, or it will draw the unsaved. That quality in itself provides the necessary genuiness. There is no demanding results, or giving up when they don't occur. Agape love keeps on giving despite any inconvenience and pain. God gave the most precious person He had to save this world. Shouldn't we be prepared to give the most precious thing we have to give to reach out to others and the lost? Without it, the darkness will prevail, and no life can thrive in it.
This article by Cate Russell-Cole is under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Written in Australian English.
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