Monday, August 2, 2010

Rightly Placed Hope Frees Us to Love Well

This summer during my quiet times I have been doing most of my reading in the letters of Paul. Because of my particular aptitude and personality, I really like the truly meaty theological selections from his writings. The truth is this: when I read through his letters, I usually just read all the other stuff as quickly as possible just so I can get to the passages that are my favorites. This is a really worthless way to read scripture. I already know what those favorite passages say and I know what they’re communicating doctrinally and theologically, but I don’t often stop to meditate on the other stuff that is just as important—if not, more important for me to read and implement into my life. I give you Colossians 1 as Exhibit A.

I think Colossians 1:13-23 is one of the greatest passages of scripture that Paul ever wrote (and for goodness sake, he wrote 16 unbelievable chapters in Romans). But as I began to read Paul’s letters this summer, I decided to really, really read all of the text and try as best I could to absorb it all. As I took this approach, I didn’t even make it past verse 4 in Colossians before something new really jumped off the page. Colossians 1:4-5 tells us that the Christians inColossae have love for all the saints, because they have placed their hope in heaven. Paul seems to suggest in the next sentence that loving others is a basic part of the gospel. I believe it was Tim Keller who explained that love isn’t really love until it costs you something—love by definition requires sacrifice. For instance, to love well this summer, we’ve had to sacrifice. Because let’s face it: there are 12 of us and that’s a lot of sinners saved by grace to stuff into one house. But, I think it’s shown us all where our hope is. If that hasn’t shown us, then evangelizing and building relationships with the lost has for sure.

I think that’s the biggest lesson the Spirit shone on my soul as I read Colossians 1 the other day. I felt like Spirit was whispering, “Nate, they’ll never know the Supremacy of Christ from Colossians chapter one if someone doesn’t love them sacrificially.” It’s true. Relationships are a mess of sacrifice, but they’re a mess worth making—especially if my hope isn’t found in the relationships, but rather in Christ. Jesus didn’t make a great sacrifice so that we as believers could avoid sacrifice—his sacrifice enables our sacrifice for the kingdom and for people. The past couple weeks, it has been really hard to get lost students to call us back, text us back, or even come out to get free food. I’ve never encountered this much of this in the States and it’s been challenging. I have been encouraged by our team though. Our rightly placed hope frees us to love well. These guys (and girls) lay it out there day in and day out. They desire so much to love people well and to sacrifice comfort, sleep, feelings, emotions, pride, and even physical well-being to reach the lost. I count myself richly blessed to be with this team.

If you read this, please pray that we would look to make more and more sacrifices to love the lost in Dunedin. Please pray that God would move in us to be aggressive with our love and that He would move in them to respond. Thanks for reading and thanks for praying. Thanks for loving us.

-Nate X.


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