This past Wednesday night, I was hit hard by a statement our pastor mentioned: Love them to Christ.
Hmm. For some reason, this intrigued me. I know we are suppose to love as Christ. We are to love our enemies. We are to love the lost. We are to love our family and friends. Of course, I know this! But growing up in a Christian environment I had always heard that we want to “lead” others to Jesus. Lead them to the cross of Christ. Lead them to repentance. Maybe even get the privilege of leading them into a prayer of salvation and surrender. Now I am not saying that we shouldn’t lead the lost to Christ. No, please don’t get me wrong! But where did this term of “leading” people to Christ come from?
I opened the concordance to look up the word “lead” in the New Testament. There were several passages using the word in a general term…ie, the blind leading the blind, leading an ox to a watering hold, and Paul explaining his authority as an apostle to lead sisters, wives, etc. However, it was not mentioned leading the unsaved to the Lord. The final passage that references “lead” is in Revelation 7:17 where it states that the Lamb of God will lead us to living fountains of water.
There is no wrong in leading others to the cross. But think with me here. To lead according to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary means to guide on a way, to direct on a course, to serve as a channel. We should, as followers of Christ, be channels and guides for those seeking a better way: the right way. But if the lost are looking for THE way, what will give them the incentive to look to us for guidance? What will cause them to even listen to us? Figuratively, how can you take someone by the hand and urge them to walk down a “different” path than what they are accustomed to? What would cause them to trust you? Why would they willingly follow you?
The more I thought about this, I came to this conclusion. Before you “lead” someone to Christ, first “love” them to Christ. Let them see the love of Christ manifesting itself in your life: your words and actions. How do you relate to them as unbelievers? Do they sense and feel that we genuinely love them? That we don’t condemn them but that we accept them with their faults, failures, and sins? Now we don’t condone their sin. We should never justify it. We should hate their sin – just as we should hate our own. But we can love them and show it by how we treat them.
God alone is the One who draws a person to Himself in repentance. We can’t make it happen. It’s not our job to force it upon someone. However, if we want to be salt on this earth; if we want to be a light in the darkness; if we want to be a channel of peace in the midst of troubled waters – this is the key! Love them by laying down your life for them; love them by praying for them; love them by opening your home to them, love them by speaking words of peace to them; love them by helping them. Love them by sharing the wonder of Christ’s salvation and the amazing change it brought about in your life. Express your joy in Jesus! Let them hear your heart of thankfulness for all that God has blessed you with instead of complaints. Let them hear words of life flow from your mouth not the idle words of the heathen. If they see this, they’ll know there’s something different in you and that something is definitely REAL. And when they are compelled to seek after God, they may just come to YOU first! And you then can be given the privilege of “leading” them to the Lord!
This concept of “loving” them to Jesus applies mostly to those we associate with on a more frequent basis. Remember, God can use any means to bring someone to Himself. Even if someone were on a deserted island, they can still be fully persuaded to trust in the Lord Jesus as their Saviour as the law of God is written on every heart. In the few brief seconds it takes to hand someone a gospel tract, love may not be the first thing they feel. But that’s okay. We are still called to “go and make disciples”. However God instructs you to do so, be obedient to that call! Just remember, when you are given moments of opportunity to show love – do it! Ask yourself “what would Jesus do?”. What DID Jesus do? Jesus was and continues to be the ultimate example of love personified. He gave His life so that we might live!
I will caution you to please be careful in not getting confused. There is a difference in loving the lost to Christ versus loving the lost to yourself. We are still called to “come out from among them and be ye separate” (2 Cor. 6:17). Remember the verse, he who is a friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4)? If we are socializing with the lost and condoning sinful selfish behavior in our lives just to be accepted or liked by them – this is not the true meaning of loving them to Jesus. This is a friendship based on selfish desires. This is a friendship based on selfish gain and satisfaction. The lost need to see us as different – exemplifying our Master whom we should be loving with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We may have to take stands based on our convictions. Sometimes we may have to say “no” but this doesn’t mean we don’t love them. This shows that for us it’s not just a religion but a real and thriving relationship with Jesus.
So at the onset of this new year, as you converse with those outside of your home or (maybe for some) even within your home, let the first step in leading them to the Lord be loving them to the Lord. Perhaps the fruit of love will bear forth souls one day standing before the throne of God being welcomed into heaven for all of eternity.