After Nan had wandered from Christ's teaching, she frequently heard, "You should go to church," and "You should get saved...." The emphasis was always on her failures, and such talk irritated her. After she returned to God, I asked her what had brought her back. She replied, "I began to hear God say, 'I love you.'"
Nan's well-intentioned friends loved her, but their ministry to her was limited by her perception of their caring. An African told what nationals expect of their missionaries: "We expect you to fellowship with us, to sit where we sit. We want to look into your eyes to see if we see compassion. If you come with love, we'll detect it. We want to see if you win us to your heart before you try to win us to Jesus."
When we were visiting missionaries in Papua New Guinea, I heard the story of a national who had previously worked for an American who professed to be a Christian. Never once was the national invited to eat with the Americans. She always took her portion of left-overs and ate out the back door. With great amazement she saw Joanna, their new missionary, hug her house girls and share food with them around the kitchen table. When Joanna invited her into their home for a meal, her reservations were completely dissolved. Joanna truly loved them.
Norma shared, "My neighbor said she doesn't want to be a Christian. She'd had too many bad experiences-as when her husband was dying of cancer and someone asked, 'Are you a Christian?' She sensed no love in the question. It was not what she needed to hear at the time."
As John 15:6 says, when we're not abiding in Christ, our efforts are like sticks put into the fire and burned. They accomplish nothing.
Dear Jesus, Your love meets people's deepest need. Make me a channel for Your love to flow through.
"Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them" (Rom. 12:9 NLT).
"God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 5:5)