“Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.” – Romans 10:1
I wish I were more like the nerd. His name was Steven, and he looked like he had just stepped out of the movie “Revenge of the Nerds.” I met him while I was in college. He had been enrolled at Cal State Fullerton for over 12 years for one reason: he wanted access to students on campus so that he could tell them about Jesus. Steven looked funny and talked funny, but I will always admire his heart for the lost.
Steven was much like Paul, who wrote in Romans 9:2: “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart” (Romans 9:2). Paul understood better than anyone how wonderful Jesus is. He was amazed by Christ’s forgiveness, floored by his grace, and absolutely blown away by Christ’s love. But at the very same time, Paul understood better than anyone how horrible the consequences will be for those who turn their backs on Christ. He understood that those who reject Jesus Christ will stumble through this life shut off all of that forgiveness, mercy and love. Far worse, Paul realized that those who reject Christ during this life will spend eternity in Hell—where there is absolutely no grace, no comfort, no peace, no hope and no love.
So, Paul’s heart literally broke for those who rejected Christ, and it pained him to know that so many of his Jewish brothers and sisters had denied their only chance of salvation. In Romans 8, when Paul looked at Christ, his heart rejoiced. But in chapter 9, when he looked at his fellow Jews, his heart wept.
Paul’s love and compassion for the lost is such a rare thing today. But it shouldn’t be. We should all have a heart for the lost like Paul’s. And if we did, we would be praying every day that all of our lost brothers and sisters in the
would be saved. We would reach out to our neighbors and co-workers and
classmates in any way that we could, inviting them to church and telling them
the Good News about Jesus. Victor Valley
If you’re a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, God has graciously given you a new perspective on people. As we read in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” What does that have to do with sharing Christ? Well, as Warren Wiersbe points out, “Because ‘all things are become new,’ we also have a new view of people around us. We see them as sinners for whom Christ died. We no longer see them as friends or enemies, customers or coworkers; we see them the way Christ sees them, as lost sheep who need a shepherd.”
So, as a follower of Jesus Christ, you are not to view people as the rest of the world views people. I’m sure you’ve noticed that in the past few years, we Americans have taken to slapping critical labels on each other left and right. You’re not a Republican—you’re an alt-right neo-fascist. You’re not a Democrat—you’re a Marxist socialist liberal. It’s absolute madness! We lump people into different subgroups based on the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, their political leaning, some psychiatrist’s diagnosis, and a hundred other things.
And God’s word tells us: Don’t buy into the labels! Don’t buy into the world’s categories. Don’t separate people into a thousand different groups that are constantly changing in our depraved, sinful culture. In Christ we have been given a new perspective. We need to view people as Christ views people. And Christ’s perspective is very simple and straightforward. There are only TWO categories of people: “Lost” and “Found.” Or you could say it this way: “Dead” or “Alive.”
That’s it! Either someone is lost in spiritual darkness without Christ, or he/she has been found by Christ and is secure in his arms. Our greatest concern is no longer whether the person we’re speaking to voted for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or Elmer Fudd. Our greatest concern is no longer whether the person in front of us is black, white, brown or yellow. Like Paul, our hearts are to be laser-focused on people’s salvation. If that person is found, we love him as a brother in Christ. And if he is lost, we reach out to him, pray for his salvation and point him to Christ at every opportunity. We want him to be found.
We would never have done those things before we found Christ, but today, we have a new perspective on people, and it’s Jesus’ perspective. It’s the desire for all of those around us to be saved. Until we share Christ, too many of those around us will never experience the forgiveness and the grace and the love that can only come through Jesus. Paul understood this well. So did my college friend, Steven. Do you?
Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information, visit www.fccvv.com and join us for worship Sundays at 10 a.m.