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.