the weblog of Alan Knox

Living the Love of God

Posted by on Apr 14, 2008 in love, missional, service, synchroblog | 7 comments

This post is part of a “Missional Synchroblog” organized by Jonathan from “Missio Dei“. Jonathan has proposed that we each publish one post per month over the next four month concerning four different topics: 1) What does missional living look like to me? 2) What attracts me to missional? 3) Where is God calling me into mission? and 4) My best missional story. Since this is the first month of the synchroblog, the topic is “What does missional living look like to me?”

A friend of mine moved into a new neighborhood almost two years ago. He bought a house that was in need of many repairs, and, in fact, he’s still working on the house now. In less than two years, he has met most of his neighbors, inviting them to dinner at his house. He has started friendships with several neighbors, some of whom are Christians and some of whom are atheists. Although he doesn’t necessarily enjoy fishing, he has been fishing with one neighbor a few times. He has also helped several of his neighbors work on their houses. Spending all of this time with his neighbors has meant that the work on his house has taken alot longer than expected. But, he thinks that spending time with his neighbors is important.

Another friend moved from the United States to another country a few years ago. She spends most of her time with local college students teaching them English. Some students come for one or two lessons, other students come back several times. One or two students have been attending her English classes for over a year. She is building relationships with these students as she is able, even inviting them into her home and spending time in their homes. It is very difficult for her to live in a strange culture, to learn a new language, to break old habits, to leave behind family and friends and comforts and familiar things. But, she thinks that it is important for her to travel around the world and spend time with these college students.

Another friend and his family spend their Saturday mornings at the community center of a local government housing project. For the most part, they spend hours playing with boys and girls. They play on the playground equipment, ride boys and girls on their shoulders, play football with the older children, and even provide lunch. They have spent so much time with the boys and girls that they have gotten to know many of them – and some of the stories will break your heart… stories of broken families, abuse, neglect, missing parents, drugs, alcohol, prostitution. But, they think it is important to insert their lives into the broken lives of these boys and girls.

Another friend spends much of her time helping people with nutritional, health, and lifestyle issues. She spends hours every week talking to people, praying with them, encouraging them, and helping them recognize the importance of living a healthy life. She shows them alternatives to over-medicating and teaches them how to thrive in spite of constant pain. Although it is stressful to deal with hurting people all of the time, and although she doesn’t get paid for these services, she feels that it is important for her help people live physically and spiritually healthy lives.

Another friend and his family have “adopted” a couple of people who are struggling both physically and financially. Several times this family has found money, or furniture, or food that someone needs. They have given people rides to the hospital or the doctor’s office, even if the trip lasts several hours. This family takes care of people together, with the entire family getting involved. Perhaps some would think that this type of service would take too much away from “family time”, but they think that it is important for them to care for those who need help.

There are many other friends that I could mention – brothers and sisters who consider it important to give up something of their own lives in order to serve others – both those who are part of God’s family and those who are not in God’s family. I could mention the brother and sister who moved their family to an urban area to demonstrate God’s love in a desparate situation. I could mention a brother who gives up nights and weekends to work on people’s cars without charge. I could mention many brothers and sisters who cook dinners for those who have been sick or need a break for other reasons.

Which of my friends are living missionally? I think all of them are. They are living the love of God as he has provided opportunity and means and passion. And, they are all inserting their lives into the lives of other people. Their lives have been changed by God through the good news of Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and they desire to demonstrate God’s love and proclaim that same good news to others in tangible ways.

There are dangers in describing the lives of some of my friends in the way that I have above. First, I definitely left out some people and some examples. God has surrounded me with many, many friends who are attempting to live the love of God in their lives. I could not mention all of them. Second, it is possible that someone could read my description of their own life and become proud. Knowing the people that I described above, that will probably not happen. Most will be embarrassed that I mentioned them, saying that they are not doing anything special. Third, there is a danger that someone will read my descriptions above and assume that those are the only ways that God works through his people into the lives of others. I would like to finish this article on this point.

Missional living means living the love of God in a way that impacts other people. As Paul said, we have been reconciled to God, and we are now to serve others with the goal of seeing them reconciled as well. This reconciliation affects all aspects of our lives, beginning with our relationship with God, but also affecting our relationship with other people.

However, the common grace of God and our common reconciliation with God does not mean that we all serve others in the same way. God has gifted us differently. He has given us different talents. We all have different opportunities. God has given us different passions and interests. Thus, we will serve others in different ways. There is a danger, especially among leaders, in thinking that every Christian will serve in the same way that I (or the leader) serves. This is not the way that God works.

Thus, missional living will look different for different people. However, in all instances, a life that mirrors the mission of God will love the love of God in the lives of others in order to reconcile them to God and to one another. This is what missional living looks like to me.

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This blog post is part of the “Missional Synchroblog” dealing with the question, “What does missional living look like to me?” If you would like to read other posts about this same topic, click the links below:

Jonathan Brink – Meeting God Where He’s Already Working
Ben Wheatley – Are Things You Are Living For Worth It
Blake Huggins – What Does Missional Living Look Like
Alan Knox – Living the love of God
Dave DeVries – The Missional Challenge
Bryan Riley – What Does Missional Living Look Like To Me
Tim Jones – Living Like the Word Says
Jeromy Johnson – What is Missional Living to Me?
Dave Wierzbicki – We are Missioning
Nathan Gann – Inevitability?


7 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 4-14-2008

    Excellent post. The Spirit gives to each gifts as He deems right. Our responsibility is to keep on giving away what we’ve been given to glorify the great Giver!

  2. 4-14-2008

    Thank you for sharing those encouraging stories. To me four or five stories is worth more than 100 pages of theological monologue. Thanks for the blessing this morning!

  3. 4-14-2008

    Alan, the beauty is the freedom of diversity. Nice.

  4. 4-14-2008

    Bryan,

    Yes, the Spirit gives various gifts, and he also provides various opportunities and needs. Thus, when we are all functioning as God has designed us, we act look differently from one another.

    Jeromy,

    Thanks! I like to hear good, encouraging, and challenging stories as well.

    Jonathan,

    I agree completely! When we can see the beauty in diversity, we will also see the beauty of God’s grace and mercy.

    -Alan

  5. 4-14-2008

    fantastic reports, Alan. One thing I’ve noticed is almost every time we think we are acting out of a desire to see someone else come closer to full life in God we find ourselves stretched and reconciled maybe much more than the person or situation we had anticipated reaching.

  6. 4-15-2008

    David,

    I agree completely! Isn’t it amazing how when we empty ourselves for others, God fills us up?

    -Alan

  7. 10-5-2011

    Another Great Post!

    Yours Truly,

    The Missional Missionary