Our Mission: Love People
Last week we started a blog series on the Mission of Missio Church. Missio exists to Love God, Love People and Awaken a Movement. And as simple as it is to make a statement, the reality of living into that mission is much more challenging. The reason it is challenging is not because we are unable or unskilled. Its simply because we don’t allow the Mission to direct our activity and motivate us to participate in things that will make the mission we long for become reality.
A church’s mission should never simply be a statement. It is the mold for a church’s way of life. It is the foundation, motivation, and passion for who we are. It’s how we make decisions about worship, ministry, and life in general. This is what a church’s mission is supposed to be.
So what does it mean to Love People? Should be pretty straight forward shouldn’t it be? You would think that in 2017 we would have figured out what it means to love people. Most of you have heard the “Golden Rule” before. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We often insert love into this phrase to make a more direct correlation between action and emotion. So we say, “Love Others as you would want to be loved and treat them the way you would want to be treated.” Unfortunately you look around and very quickly see that the things we say are not the things we actually believe. The easiest thing in the world is to sling pithy statements around and claim we believe them. However, belief is found in actively participating in the thing you are saying is true. In other words, making the statement, “I love people” and turning around and living a lifestyle of hatred and prejudice toward people is in fact not loving people. So for us as a church to say, “we love people” means that we must actively seek to be loving toward people. This is a posture of living that requires our active participation in being Loving. It must be the thing that motivates us and sends us into the spaces of our city where people’s stories live.
Jesus is our perfect example of what it looks like to be loving. To live a life of active love for the people around him. In Mark 5 Jesus meets a man possessed by evil spirits and cast away by the community he lived and worked in. His neighbors and relationships bound him in chains and left him to die in the tombs of the city. Their frustration and fear of this man led them to do the unthinkable by isolating him away from the touch of human relationship, to suffer not only by the pain of evil spirits but also by the abandonment of the people he once called family, friends, and neighbors. And Jesus shows up, having crossed a raging sea, to be with this man in the midst of his isolation and he does the one thing that had been denied him for so long. He shows love and reaches out to be present with him, right where he was.
One of the reasons loving people is so hard is because our stories are so messy. Some of us may mask the messiness of our story better than others. But ultimately all of our stories are messy and challenging. We all come with baggage in one form or another that, when opened up, shows a reality that is less attractive to those around us. It's easier to love people when the messiness of their humanity is closed deep inside them. But once we get the realness of people’s lives it becomes harder and harder to genuinely love. And yet this is what we are called to as Christians. To love people in the midst of the fullness of who they are.
I John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” I love this verse because it says, in the midst of my messy life, all the good and the bad, Christ loved me in a way that no one else could. And we are challenged to embody that love for the people around us. A love that knows no bounds. That does not have restrictions or qualifications attached to it. A love that pursues people and what is best for them above everything else. And a love that is willing to step into the mess, the chaos, of our stories to simple be present with someone.
Missio Church is striving to be a people who live into this lifestyle of loving people. We believe that entire cities will be changed when people allow Christ’ love to burst out of them. Because it’s a love that the world rarely sees anymore. But one it really needs.
So how do we do this as a church?
First, learn the names of the people around you. It's hard to show love to people when you don’t know the most basic things about them. Learn their names and listen to their stories. Second, look to discover the depths of who people are. Ask questions that give people the opportunity to tell about who they are. Third, be willing to step up when people need it. Bring food, mow a lawn, send a card, and generally do what you can to help people know they are loved for who they are, no matter how messy it is. Do this and you will start to see the people around you reciprocating that love to the people around them as well. This is how God’s movement spreads in our time.
Let’s learn to Love People in real and genuine ways together. Love you all Big Time!