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A few years back God began asking me if I really loved people the way that I was called to love them. More specifically, do I love LOST people the way that HE would have me to love them?
Do I love people as He loves people?
Which led to the question: How does God love people anyway?
Most of us know the answer to that question whether we realize it, or not. John 3:16 tells us that God gave everything He had so that we would come to know Him; not just you and me, but every soul on this earth. God’s heart for the lost has such an intensity that we cannot comprehend it. It’s unfathomable!
So, how am I as a Christ follower supposed to love the lost? How can I attain the heart of my Savior? How can I love the lost with the same intensity as God when I can’t even really understand it?
As I was thinking through all of these questions, the Lord had me to imagine a scenario. Think with me for a moment that you and your family were living in a forest. In that same forest there was a lion. The only way to rid you and your family of the lion for ever was to dig a massive pit. You knew that one day you would drive the lion into the pit and he would be in that pit for all time. He would never be able to harm your family again and the whole forest would be at peace.
Before the lion’s time had come, many of your own children fell into the pit that had been dug only for the lion. You had fully anticipated this. After all, the pit was well camouflaged and it was on the main pathway that every one in your family used. To save your family, you had placed a rope in the pit. All your children would have to do would be to grab the rope and you would pull them right out. But, they continually refused to grab the rope! You would plead with them, send others to plead with them, but they would NOT grab the rope! Would your heart not break? Would you not feel to the very core of your being the death of that family member as they expired in the pit for no reason? You would know that they were not supposed to die in that pit. You had made every provision for their escape and they simply refused to accept your help. How would you feel? I imagine that your pain would be unimaginable!
That’s just a small representation of how God must feel when people refuse to accept Him. II Peter 3:9 tells us that God does not want any to perish. He is patiently waiting for all to grab the rope. He has made provision for ALL to escape. Some simply choose to not accept it.
What God did for us is so much more than simply dropping a rope, but this analogy helped me to think about my reaction to people who are still “in the pit”. Do I truly hurt when people refuse to grab the rope or, do I simply think, “They’ve heard the Gospel, my job is done”? Do I plead with them to grab the rope? Or, am I satisfied with my family escaping the pit and flippantly throwing money at the rest of humanity to figure it out? Do I really love the lost?
In Luke 14, we see a description of a slave being told by his Master to compel people to come to the banquet. This is someone who is pleading for people to grab the rope. Not once, but many times. If possible, this individual would physically make a person to grab the rope. But, he can’t. He can simply plead and beg as his Master commanded.
Often times, I am so bound up in not offending someone, I can’t even hear the Holy Spirit’s leading. What if my heartfelt plea is all that is needed? What if knowing that someone truly cares about their eternal soul is what would prompt a person to truly take a look at the pit around them and grab the rope? Why am I so callous if this is all that it would take?
The Bible tells me that I have the Holy Spirit living inside of me and yet, where is my intensity for the lost? We are called to go to the edge of the pit and plead, to wiggle the rope in an enticing way and have the heart of God that breaks for those who simply choose to ignore His provision.
Oh, that my soul would break with the urgency that God has called me to. Oh, that we as a church would RUN to those whom God has called us to go. Oh, that God would give me His heart for the lost.
Ezekiel 36:26 tells us, “Moreover, I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” I cannot do this on my own. I cannot “work up” a compassion for the lost without a completely new heart. Even as a Christian, I have a heart of stone too many times. This Scripture shows me the only way. I need a FULL replacement. My heart needs to be His heart; my intensity, His intensity. My thoughts need to be His thoughts.
Romans 7:18, tells me clearly what I have refused to see before, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.” For me, it takes more than filling, it takes a replacement. For me, it takes God replacing my heart with His heart, replacing my thinking with His.
So, today I am asking God to replace me. I’m asking that He replace us – His church. I am asking for more than a filling. I’m asking for a full on replacement. Let’s join together and ask God to do what only He can do through us and in us to see a lost world come to know Him.