Live With Jesus to Love Like Jesus

The church I co-pastor in Moscow, Idaho, has been involved in many different outreach programs and opportunities over the past few years. Our congregation has been willing to try things and see if those ideas work for our area and demographic. We have made the conscious decision to not focus on failures but seek opportunities for change and growth. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has stifled a few of our well-set plans and prayerfully organized ideas. It has made it much more challenging to come up with ways to effectively and safely reach out to those in our area. New and continually changing regulations, conflicting information relating to risk for infection, a changed local demographic (we normally have a large college student population, but with in-person courses stopped or greatly limited, that has changed), and the ever-present general concern for both people in the community and our own members have forced us to think outside the church building.

Just this last week, I walked around the neighborhood by our local Adventist elementary school, Palouse Hills Christian School. We were putting door hanger ads on people’s doors for the Vacation Bible School. Traditionally VBS has been held in the Moscow Church building, which is a wonderful way to show off our church. Because of COVID-19 concerns, we wanted a bigger and outdoor space to attempt a VBS program. 

A conversation I had with our lower-grade teacher led to the idea of doing VBS at our school — to give ample outdoor space for the program and to showcase our school. Had it not been for COVID-19 I don’t know that I would have found this to be a great suggestion, but in light of the current climate I jumped on the idea.

How do you advertise and conduct a VBS where health and safety are exceptionally important? You just start crafting the outreach ministry, step by step. You pray a lot, you wash a lot, you smell continually of hand sanitizer, and you work hard. Instead of handing out flyers and meeting people, you hang a door hanger with information, you provide details of how you will keep kids and adults safe, and you learn to have conversations through masks.

In walking to homes and apartments to put up door hangers for VBS, my husband and I met more people than we would have in that particular area of Moscow without the change of location due to COVID-19. People were amazed we would even let them know about an event. People were happy we cared enough to stop by. We became aware of a bunch of people who need the love of Jesus. If it hadn’t been for COVID-19, we wouldn’t have gone there.

How do we love like Jesus? We go places we wouldn’t normally go. Not because we naturally want to and not because the people are just like us. Rather, we go because there is a need there for Jesus. I’m not saying we should put ourselves in danger or a compromising situation. But sometimes caring for people requires we get outside our comfort zone. 

People just need to feel seen. They need an opportunity to share their needs. All people are looking for love. They need to know people care and even more, that Jesus loves and cares for them.

True love comes only through Jesus! We attempt to love as human beings, but we fail. Love, true love, comes through Jesus Christ: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us" (1 John 4:7–12).

The reality is that for many people, the love of Jesus is shown through our lives and actions. The truth found in Scripture must be lived out! What we do, what we say, what we don’t do shape how people relate to Jesus. We say we are Christians, but do we act like we walk with Jesus? Do we become exasperated, shouting and creating chaos? Or do we stay calm, be peaceful and work to create places of refuge?

The things going on in our part of the world have created a lot of anger, fear and stress. If we have truly been with Jesus, if we are ourselves are truly changed by Jesus’ love in our lives, we will stand out. Not because we created havoc, not because we shouted the loudest, not because we made the best signs for our cause or argued the best. Rather we will stand out because people see that, even in the midst of chaos and struggles, we continue to love like Jesus. We walk around new neighborhoods seeking to reach people for Jesus. We host events, though abridged and more regulated, where we share who Jesus is and what He wants to do in people’s lives.

We actually live the love of Jesus, not just profess it with our mouths.

We seek to love like Jesus by living lives dedicated to Him.