Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What's Your Motivation?

On the Wooded Path - Impacting the World with Compassion

Walking onto a car lot – or even into a furniture store - is difficult for me. You know the feeling. When the salesperson approaches with a gleaming smile and extreme friendliness (too much friendliness) it's uncomfortable. Is their friendliness sincere? Are they in that friendly exchange with an ulterior motive? He’s looking for the sale – right? Can I trust his words? In this situation, I generally put up my guard.

Put yourself in the place of a non-Christian who is approached by a Christian wanting to “share the good news”. Do they view Christians the same way I view the salesperson? The truth is that many of them they do. They see our friendliness as fake. They put up their guard because they believe we have an ulterior motive. We’re looking for the sale – right? In a study by the Barna Group, “Young outsiders (those looking at the Christian faith from the outside) generally do not get the impression that Christians have good intentions when it comes to trying to ‘convert” them. Most reject the idea that Christians show true interest in them as individuals.” “Only one-third of young outsiders believe that Christians genuinely care about them.” “Rather than being genuinely interested in people for their friendship, we often seem like spiritual headhunters.” (Unchristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons; copyright 2007)

Here's a great example: I recently attended a training for an upcoming event at a local church. The trainer concluded with, "The whole purpose is for you to get people to receive Jesus Christ." 

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Basically, if you have the best sales pitch, most eloquent speech, and can deliver a moving message, your words are empty if you do not present them from a place of love. If you know the Bible backwards and forwards, understand its truths, and can share those “features” with great skill, it is just annoying noise without love. If you feed the homeless, help the poor and sacrifice all for the kingdom of God, it is meaningless action if it is not done with compassion and love.

Love is patient. (1 Corinthians 13)
Love is kind. (1 Corinthians 13)
Love does not seek its own way. (1 Corinthians 13)
Love must be sincere. (Romans 12:9)

Christ’s love is sincere. When he physically walked the earth in ministry, he saw into the depths of a person's soul. He listened to people's stories. He ministered to their needs. He invested himself relationally in the lives of individuals. No conditions.  He proved the sincerity of his love when he gave his life to save you and me. Love for the Father and love for his creation drove everything he did - and drives everything he does in hearts today. Jesus taught that the most important commandments are about love. Love is meant to be the indentifying mark of his followers (John 13:34-35).

So here’s a question for you. As you approach people to present your sales pitch and win another soul to Jesus Christ, are you driven by love for God and love for people (Matthew 22:37-40) or are you driven by a love for the “sale”? Are you loving people for Christ or are you looking for a way to build your Christian resume? Will your witness repel people from Christ or give them a desire to move into His arms? How do you respond when someone rejects what you're offering? These are tough questions to ask, but they are very important ones. Consider how the world’s view of Christ and Christianity might change if we could be a clear reflection of his heart as we learn to purely love.

Warming the World Together,