Revolutionary Love
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Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

What was it that made Jesus so different from any of the other religious leaders of His time? Well, His message was clearly different – keeping the rules can’t save you, be a servant, love your enemies. That was all new stuff to the people of Jesus’ time. I think sometimes we forget how really different the things that Jesus was preaching were. We’ve heard it all our whole lives.

What Jesus was preaching was truly revolutionary, a complete break from the religious teaching of His day. But do you think if Jesus had just preached … just stated His message and gone home, do you think He would have had any followers at all?

What drew people to Jesus had less to do with what He was saying and everything to do with what He did – how He treated people. That was revolutionary. His earthly ministry was boots-on-the-ground, gritty, hand to hand and one on one. There was nothing safe or sanitary about it. Jesus’ ministry was pretty much the complete opposite of how we want it to be.

I just read about a software company that has created a computer program that makes it possible for high school students to dissect virtual frogs. Now, a good many of you probably remember that experience in high school. None of us who experienced it, will ever forget the smell of formaldehyde. Some of you may have found it a fascinating and enlightening experience. I remember dreading the day my biology teacher would wheel out the cart with the dead frogs on it. I have never been real interested in finding out too much about those gooshy things inside us, and I was especially not interested in the gooshy things inside a dead frog! Combine that with the fact that my lab partner for the frog episode was the boy who a couple of years earlier swallowed one of the worms we were supposed to be dissecting. Needless to say, frog day was not my favorite day of high school. There was nothing sanitary, polite, or pleasant about it.

I think sometimes we expect sharing the gospel to be like dissecting virtual frogs – detached, sanitary, and not too complicated, right? Handing out literature on the third Sabbath of the month, just a quick “hello,” a handshake, and we’re outta there, right? How far do you think Jesus would have gotten if He had run His ministry like that?

It probably wouldn’t have gotten him killed, for one thing. The Pharisees wouldn’t have felt threatened by Jesus and His ministry if He had kept His hands clean.

The Pharisees lived safely behind their ceremonial wall of clean and unclean. They taught that what a person touched could make them unacceptable to God. They taught that having a rule for everything kept their hands clean.

When Jesus came along, He talked to people the Pharisees wouldn’t go near. He ate with people the Pharisees didn’t like – eating with riffraff and staying overnight with “those people.”

And “those people” – when they saw how much Jesus loved them, that He wasn’t afraid to touch them, talk to them, and heal them – loved Him back.

Jesus had compassion on the people He met every day and people were changed by that kind of revolutionary love – love that touched lepers, ate with prostitutes and tax collectors, and treated them like good friends.

The people that Jesus ministered to, talked to, and preached to weren’t numbers on a chart somewhere for “contacts made.” They were His friends. He loved each one of them; He loves each one of us. Yes, the things Jesus said were amazingly different, but what He did was revolutionary.

I work every day with people who might make some folks uncomfortable. I work with intellectually delayed adults. I have to admit that when I first started working with these people, I was pretty intimidated. Some of them don’t look any different than you and I do, but some are quite different. Some need help feeding themselves. A few need help with more personal things. Almost a year and a half ago, I spent a lot of time trying to not touch anybody or be touched by anyone. I thought I could do my job without getting too involved in any individual’s life and then go home.

That’s not the way it works. My clients can sense, just like you and I can, that someone is just putting in his or her time, that someone is emotionally distant from us, that someone is in a hurry to get away. And, as I work with each client, I become involved in his or her life. We are not separate any more. We are friends. I care about each one.

When I was growing up I remember hearing people talk about something called “disinterested benevolence.” I remember hearing people say that meant that we shouldn’t get personally involved with the people we were witnessing to – we should just provide the information and move on. Now maybe I misunderstood, but that seems like a very Pharisaical way to witness. “Here’s your information, do with it as you will.”

“Divine love makes its most touching appeals to the heart when it calls upon us to manifest the same tender compassion that Christ manifested. That man only who has unselfish love for his brother has true love for God. The true Christian will not willingly permit the soul in peril and need to go unwarned, uncared for. He will not hold himself aloof from the erring, leaving them to plunge farther into unhappiness and discouragement or to fall on Satan’s battleground.” (E. G. White, Acts of the Apostles, p. 550)

Some folks talk about how important it is for churches to stay “culturally relevant.” I’m not all that sure what that means to them. It seems to mean that those people  feel that we should adopt some more worldly things to bring people in and keep them interested. Maybe we do, I don’t know. But in my experience, as long as people know that you are interested in them and care about them specifically, whether or not you are playing their specific kind of music isn’t that important to them. If they sense that we aren’t that interested in them personally, they’re not going to keep coming, no matter what we offer them. People want to know that we are interested in them.

“How many of the wandering ones have you, reader, sought for and brought back to the fold? When you turn from those who seem unpromising and unattractive, do you realize that you are neglecting the souls for whom Christ is seeking? At the very time when you turn from them, they may be in the greatest need of your compassion. In every assembly for worship, there are souls longing for rest and peace. They may appear to be living careless lives, but they are not insensible to the influence of the Holy Spirit. Many among them might be won for Christ.
If the lost sheep is not brought back to the fold, it wanders until it perishes. And many souls go down to ruin for want of a hand stretched out to save. These erring ones may appear hard and reckless; but if they had received the same advantages that others have had, they might have revealed far more nobility of soul, and greater talent for usefulness. Angels pity these wandering ones. Angels weep, while human eyes are dry and hearts are closed to pity.”1

Do you want to show the world revolutionary love today? I do.

  1. E. G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p191
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Comments

Revolutionary Love — 19 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts they were really profound, and allowed me to remember How our Savior was on earth and how we are suppose to be as His followers. I am living in Europe were people tend to look at religion as a mere formality. They are strongly dedicated to their traditions, so witness can be challenging here. However, God has blessed me with the awesome opportunity to use music as a way to witness. I have discovered that after a gospel concert, people are more willing to open up and admit that they too are seeking for more peace, and happiness in there lives, that only Christ can give. I am asking for your prayers that God will continue to send His Holy Spirit to help me to transmit the same compassion and love for people that He had during his ministry.

    God Bless
    Josie From Venice Italy

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  2. Thank you for this post... I am blest. :) I am moved by the love of Jesus Christ for me and this love is what I want others to have. God bless us all. Happy Sabbath :)

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  3. I am blessed by this presentation especially after noticing how we create social classes at church. The lesson is an inspiration to me and my family. We should be sisters and brothers in Christ and that should not end on Sabbath only but checking on each other during the week. After that we can afford to witness to non-Adventists.

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    • Thank You Moses for being right up front with the value of each church member who also need compassion and ministry.

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  4. The passage is very good. We as Christians should avoid the social classes and caste systems that are going on in our churches.

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  5. Lillianne,
    I was convicted and blessed by your testimony and witness to remember that Jesus loves us so much that he died for all of us. We must always remember not to judge as the world does, on outside appearances and circumstances. These are temporal. May God continue to bless you and please keep being a witness for Him. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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  6. Thank you Lillian, I read how beautiful and genuine Jesus is and I am overwhelmed! What a character - perfect! I cringe when I stop to reflect on my character, I am so busy with my own needs that I rush around and feel I have no time for others. I need 'wake up calls' to make me stop in my tracks and pay attention to the role God intends me to follow. I must believe that a change, a step away from my current business is easily achievable with the Holy Spirit's help! Amen. Life isn't about me, but others. Let's pray for one another. We need transforming; reformation and revival; you and I can be more like Him.

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  7. Thank you for reminding us of the importance of looking past the outer person and into the inner person. As a physical therapist I have to put my hands on people to help them. I have a clinic in a small, poor mining town. There are many patients that come to me that have not showered for what smells like weeks. Their clothes are filthy, their hair is greasy, their finger nails are long and dirty and the teeth that they have left are rotting and causes their breath to have a very offensive odor. I am constantly amazed that when I see someone like this and treat them with dignity and genuine concern and without hesitation shake their hand and touch the area that is giving them physical pain how quickly their bodies physically respond. It seems that type of patient almost always improves much quicker than when I treat someone that we would consider "normal". If the physical body responds that way to a caring, loving touch then can you imagine how the inner person must respond to a loving and caring approach as they are ministered to. I think your article touches on this very important aspect of ministry. We must go beyond our comfort zone and the rewards will be rich when we do, both for the person we are trying to touch and for ourselves. I pray for blessing on your work with those special individuals...keep on loving them!

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    • Really and truly it amazes me that I was at first intimidated by these clients I now enjoy being with everyday. I was really interested in what you said about the power for touch because so many of the folks I work with cannot speak clearly touch is sometimes their only mode of communication. Not only do they benefit from a touch on the shoulder, a handshake or a hug, they love to give those things to others. Accepting physical communication is crucial to communicating with someone who is not able to speak clearly.
      God gives all of us opportunities to communicate his love with others...the question is, are we willing to reach out and take them.
      Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and for reading.

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      • It is interesting that you mentioned that you have clients that cannot speak clearly. I am currently about three weeks into treatment on a 47 year old male who has been deaf and mute from birth. He came in for neck pain with radiating pain into the left arm. His mother comes in with him and she can communicate with him through sign language. The first few visits I couldn't really do much with him because when I would work on him he could not relax. He wasn't used to someone touching him and he would have a very scared look in his eyes as I manually stretched and tractioned his neck. But when he finally realized that I was there to help him and that I wasn't going to hurt him he was then able to relax and we have made excellent progress. He now comes in and always gives me two "thumbs up" and a huge smile and jumps on my table for treatment. He loves the treatment because he knows it will help him feel better. And isn't that the way we are too in our relationship with Christ? We initially are hesitant to commit our hearts to him because we are afraid of getting hurt or we don't think we are good enough. But when we experience His healing touch in our hearts and lives then we enjoy coming to Him because, no matter what pain we are going through, we know there will be healing as we learn to communicate with Him.

        Jesus Himself consistently modeled the importance of physically touching and healing the body first before trying to reach someone on a spiritual level. When we follow this model we gain a person's trust and they are more likely to receive what we have to say because they know that we care and have already eased their pain on a physical level. You touched on the most important part of this whole dynamic in your reply: are we willing to reach out and take the opportunities that God places in our lives to communicate His love to others? It is my prayer for us as a church that the answer is "yes, we are willing". Thank you for your reply and may rich blessings be yours as you continue in your ministry of love!

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  8. Thank you for the reminder of our calling to touch the lives of more than just those we deem 'worthy' or 'safe'.
    This is clearly a struggle we all share. It is far afield of our nature to step outside our comfort and personal safety and yet it is there that we find the greatest need.
    After all, where was the thief when Jesus saved him from eternal death? Only by His example and grace, can we reach out in His name with His love.

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  9. This is exactly where we are prayerfully taking our church, first as a group effort to gather momentum and build a culture of service based on Christ's love and genuine concern, and then to have individuals spawn their own ministries to the community. We are starting with feeding the homeless by partnering with the PADS organization in our area. It is a shame that our lifestyle allows us to drive in, do our worship routine, and then leave to our homes without ever touching the lives of people where they need it. Thanks for the reinforcement so eloquently presented.

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  10. Thanks for that testimony, I'm a PTA and deal with some of the same concerns ... at face value my carnal man sometimes may recoil but it doesn't take long for the Jesus in me to end up seeing them as a person in need but I know I can do better through Christ. It's hard to not see this as just a job sometimes because you don't really have an opportunity to witness to them ... most people in there treat patients with dignity and respect so I try to figure out how I can be different ... I realize that at some point when people keep having the problem and the therapist patience starts to run thin, that's possibly where I can b most effective by continuing to b like Jesus ... profound article and great responses, God bless

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  11. Hello Lillian,
    Well said! This evening, when I was walking out of Target, I overheard a woman with her window rolled down asking a man for help. She needed gas money to get to a town some distance away. When the man said he did not have any cash on him and she was about to drive away, I found myself volunteering to fill her gas tank. I do not know why I felt impressed to do this, but I did.

    At the gas pump, she asked if I could further assist with a meal for her and her three children. I consented. After saying good bye, and after having parted with over $50, I questioned whether I had done the right thing. I did get her address. I am planning to mail her a Great Controversy. I guess that if she reads that book, it was money well-spent.
    Anyway, after reading your post this evening, I am reminded of the song that says,"all that thou spendest, Jesus will repay." Your article was very encouraging. Thank you.

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  12. I am touched basically by the fact that devine love is for all. The christedom presently lacks this attribute; this makes its impossible even for the evangelical work to continue, leave alone unity in the Lord's house. How can this happen? They ask. Take it, for example, if we have enemies in the church, can we unite? The answer is a capital NO.
    Jesus should be our role model in this. He loved his enemies: killers, thieves, adulterers, the proud, betrayers name them. Then why do we think we cannot do this to humanity? I think we lack something. The agent of love and unity, the Holy Ghost. Think of it people. Be blessed.

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  13. God love is amaizing, and comes what may, he is still working through others to help us.

    Just the other day I was feeling down; there was just so much on my mind, my husband is not working, the bills are pilling up and I just got my cna license. I can't find a job and my daughter is to start college while the other one was doing therophy she is just 9 and she has been through 4 surgeries. I also have a 1 year old. I was praying still going to church, then one night as I lay in bed, these words came to me, I'm just a sinner saved by grace, and I though if only someone could sing this song for me it would chair my spirit. To make a long story short, I went to chuch, it was a fasting service so they brought in a special singer, and to my serprise that was the song he sang. I was blessed, my soul was watered and to God be the glory He is working it out in his own time, therefore, I am so thankful and I won't stop praising His mighty name.

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