Jesus first. Everything else second

Recently, a youth on my Facebook friends list posted a picture of himself holding a gun with some swearing in his status. He just happened to be wearing a shirt from the ministry we used to be a part of in Charlotte. Several people immediately started jumping on his case about the shirt, and how bad it looked for him to take that picture, post those words, and wear a ministry shirt.

Let me backtrack a little. This kid is no longer a part of the ministry. He was in Charlotte for quite some time, but is now living once again in Chicago. Like many of the youth we used to work with, he struggles with the usual issues of life. Peer pressure. Drugs. Alcohol. Girls. He was doing good while living in Charlotte, but once he moved back home, things went back to how they used to be.

I commented on the picture by just asking how he was doing. I hadn’t talked to him in a long time. I didn’t mention the swearing, the gun, or anything about the shirt. None of that mattered to me. It broke my heart that no one even cared enough to realize he desperately needs the love of Christ. Even now more than ever.

He sent me a private message, and we talked for nearly 30 minutes. It was awesome. He said no one ever just reaches out to him anymore. He’s tried talking to people, but they don’t respond. He said he even thought about trying to reach out to me a while back, but was afraid I would just ignore him. Just like everyone else. I spent that entire conversation just pouring into him with the love of Christ. I told him how much God loves him, and that he was created in God’s very own image. I let him know that it’s never too late. No one can ever go so far that they are outside of God’s reach. When we were done, he told me I had put a smile on his face, and that hadn’t happened in a long time.

The conversation made me stop and look back. We were involved with that ministry for nearly four years. We began to lose sight of whom we were living for. We began to follow man, and Jesus got moved down a few notches on the priority list. Don’t get me wrong, we were doing great things. Feeding the hungry. Sheltering the homeless. Caring for the widows and orphans. But, we weren’t truly doing it in love. And 1 Cor 13 talks about that.

Everything we did was ministry-focused and not Christ-focused.

That created a huge problem. A problem that exists within our culture of Christianity in general. Too often, we try and get people into our church or ministry, when we should be inviting them to Jesus.

Before you start yelling at me, I’m not saying there is anything at all wrong with doing church and ministry. However, it has to be done from a motivation of love. Not to try and get more members or volunteers. Not to brag about how many service hours we’ve completed or the amount of money we’ve given to the community. Jesus said to give in secret. To not let anyone know about it. Then our Father will reward us.

When ministries and churches give, and shout it out to the world, they have already received their reward. (This isn’t my philosophy. It’s straight from the Bible. From the mouth of Jesus.) It doesn’t matter if everyone knows what we’re doing or giving. God knows. That’s all that matters.

I urge you to take a look at where you are right now. Dig deep and uncover your true motivation. Jesus did everything in and from a motivation of love. Never self. Never to raise money. Never to become popular or trendy. Never with anything in mind but the needs of a lost individual standing directly in front of Him.

Let’s make Jesus first, and everything else second.

16 thoughts on “Jesus first. Everything else second

  1. I agree with you! I think too often I look with judgmental eyes and assume that maybe someone isn’t the “church” type so I should just steer clear of them, or not “burden” them with the Good News that they might think is “weird” anyway. When really, isn’t that who Jesus came for and taught us to love? I am ashamed that I don’t have more friends that aren’t Christian and you’re article has really caused me to reflect about that. I think it’s awesome that you were able to reach out to someone in love when others were criticizing. I’m not so sure it’s the idea of Jesus that brings people to “religion” anyway, but rather the love that was shown to them first that softens their hearts so that they later come to know Jesus.


  2. Yes, Chris, Jesus first. And encouraging each other to live by this commitment, day by day, at work, at home, in life. And when someone falters or falls, pouring love and encouragement to that person. And sometimes that could be us, too. Thank you for visiting my blog. I am glad I visited yours!


  3. This is so spot on. And yet something I think we all struggle with daily. Our human nature is to look for a reward. We do things because of what we might get in return. When in reality, true life is found when we love unconditionally, shove judgements aside, and lay down our lives in efforts to bring back our lost brothers and sisters to their loving creator and savior.


  4. I can’t tell you how uplifted I was while reading this. These days seem to be filled with people that just don’t want to get involved. It’s really sad to know that opportunities like this are passed up on, on a daily basis. I know my daughter has been struggling with being accepted amongst her peers at church and has even voiced it to them to no avail. They’re just not interested. It saddens me to know how hurt and rejected it makes her feel. I’ve tried comforting and praying with her. She knows I love her deeply but is longing for that elusive approval of her peers. When you’re ignored long enough the hurt turns to anger and that’s not a good place to be. I pray that just as you reached out to this young man when he needed it most that someone will do the same for my dd. God bless you for sharing your heart.


  5. A great reminder of what it’s all about! I saw a screen saver today on a phone – it showed a sweetly smiling young man holding a Kalashnikov.


  6. Unfortunately this member-gaining and money-raising mentality is what I usually see when I look at a Christian church. I suppose it’s an easy trap to fall into. It is so good that you were able to reach out to this kid from Chicago. I feel like Society as a conglomerate is, of course, flawed, and therefor creates situations where people get into trouble. But instead of reaching out, Society wags a big finger and says “You’re not acting right!” You know? Instead we should all take a hard look at ourselves and ask “How does society allow these kids to fall into the wrong hands and how can we improve it?” Of course people are responsible for their own actions–to a point. But it is also Society’s responsibility to create an environment where crime/drugs/violence is… not as available. More easily avoided. Does that make sense? Anyway this is a great post! Thank you for reminding us to be loving, especially toward those who seem unapproachable.


  7. Amen!!! Amen!!! … To God be the Glory for you my brother in Christ! Truly warms my heart as having kindred spirits…. I am indeed overwhelmed with praise and thanksgiving for having come across another who speaks in a familiar language to me and that is the language that my savior taught me in… Thank you for your choice in following Christ Jesus and know that you will be lifted up in my prayers!


  8. Each time I move, I am glad that God is wherever I go too, but it saddens me how many members of my former Christian “families” no longer care after I am not on the membership roster. I treasure the true ones, but I do think it is a side effect of good people being a few degrees off course.


  9. What others think of us comes mostly from the carnal mind which is enmity against God. When we are doing things to bring others into the kingdom we often find ourselves surrounded by awesome people who have yet to find Christ’s true self. Most of them only know the Christ “so called Christians” use to point the finger and shake their heads. Christ is used ALL THE TIME for others to build themselves up by pointing out the fault of others. This never leads to righteous fruit. Those roots are evil and the seeds therein come from the evil one. mostly. We are to go into the skate parks, the ghettos, the hospitals and prisons in order to water the Christ that lives in each person there. It is up to them what they do with Him as he grows within them. If the time is right then God will keep watering your friend in Chicago through others who Love him. Keep on fighting the good fight, man. We all fall short all the time in frustration. Staying in the word, daily, no matter how many times we have read the Bible keeps us away from the carnal mind and in the spirit, whose mind set is life and peace. sigh, God’s peace is wonderful.


  10. Amen!!!

    Thank you for sharing. I truly believe you are right. We sometimes do forget to take a step back and realize why we do things. We want to believe we do it for Jesus, but when in doubt, question 😉

    Oh and thank you for being there for that youth.
    God Bless


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