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Jesus Only . . . our source of compassion

Lost people matter to God. He wants them found. Luke 19:10

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A heart for the lost flows from a heart for Christ! World missions has as its root Christ followers who are unreservedly committed to making much of Jesus. The motive that is virtually taken for granted in the missionary enterprise—in the spilling out of our lives for lost souls—is that it is for the sake of Jesus’ Name. Because Jesus is our treasure, because He is “the pearl of great price,” we willingly bring our lives, motives and actions in line with the values and commands of God. In the story of the rich young ruler, we discover eternal truths that must radically impact our lives before we are rightly positioned to reach the lost.

The first of these liberating truths is uncovered in Jesus’ statement “for my sake.” “‘Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life’” (Matt. 19:29).

When Jesus invites this rich young man to sell his possessions, give them to the poor and follow Him, it is an invitation to be freed from “wasting his life on fatal success,” as John Piper puts it, freed from small-minded goals. Jesus is inviting him to move from death to life.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy among believers is our propensity to focus on what we are asked to leave and to miss the treasure we are offered. How nearsighted we are. We would miss the glory of heaven in exchange for trinkets. Like the rich young man, we would forfeit so much to gain so little.

The second eternal truth is that a heart for the lost flows out of a heart willing to sacrifice. For this reason John Willfinger, one of the first C&MA missionaries to Indonesia, turned himself over to Japanese soldiers during World War II rather than allow the believers in the young Dayak churches to assist in hiding him and thereby lie to the invaders. Although he was immediately executed, the message of Willfinger’s life and the absolute certainty of what he treasured most cannot be silenced. Willfinger’s actions bore lasting fruit. The Dayaks of Borneo experienced Willfinger’s love for the lost, but his sacrifice preaches to generation upon generation of his love for Jesus.

May we in the C&MA rightly align our lives to the liberating truth of Scripture. We make much of Jesus when we willingly sacrifice for the lost. A. W. Tozer prayed, “O God, glorify Thyself at my expense. Send me the bill—anything, Lord. I set no price. I will not dicker or bargain. Glorify Thyself. I’ll take the consequences.”

The third liberating truth of Jesus’ teaching is that a heart for the lost flows out of a heart of love. “Jesus looked at him and loved him” we read in the Gospel of Mark (10:21). Christ’s love is not contingent on the young man’s response; it is the essence of Jesus’ being. Rooted in the gospel is the love of the Father. When asked to identify the greatest commandment, Jesus’ responded, “‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” . . . And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself ”’” (Matt. 22:37). Love for God expressed in loving our fellow man is God’s way. John Piper writes, “Love is helping people toward the greatest beauty and the highest value and the deepest satisfaction and the most lasting joy and the biggest reward and the most wonderful friendship and the most overwhelming worship—love is helping people toward God” (Let the Nations Be Glad, p. 28).

No sacrifice is too great—Jesus spared none for you and me. When, like the rich young ruler, you focus on the extreme of the sacrifice, be reminded of Jesus words: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). The same transforming power that enables people to come to God and be saved is equally effectual to enable us to love and sacrifice for His name’s sake.

The Christian life is not a method or a technique. It is the exchanged life—Christ in each of us! Jesus lives His life clothed in our skin; this is the wonder and mystery of the gospel. Jesus has already made the sacrifices of love that we are unwilling or unable to make to reach the lost—His strength for our weakness, His willingness for our hesitancy, His adequacy for our inadequacy, His life for our life. Where we can’t, He can. As the life of Jesus is lived out in us, we will have a heart for the Father. As the life of Jesus is lived out in us, we will willingly sacrifice and love to reach the lost.

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