I came across a Bob Goff quote today (if, like me, you don’t recognize the name, you can google it. Seems like a pretty decent fella). It resonated with me because it’s something I’ve been thinking for the last few years but had never managed to phrase quite so elequently.
“Loving people means caring without an agenda. As soon as we have an agenda, it’s not love anymore.”
As a church-going Christian, I believe it’s important to reach out to people who don’t know the Jesus I know. HOWEVER, the method I utilize to accomplish this, and the reason for which I do this, is something I believe needs to be heavily scrutinized and evaluated.
To accomplish this, it makes sense for me to look to the greatest Evangelist of all time as my frame of reference.
Who did Jesus hope to reach out to, to touch, to inspire, to move? Literally everybody. The woman by the well who had had several husbands and was currently with another man not her husband (John 4:1-44). The non-Jewish woman whose daughter was demon possessed (Matthew 15:21-28). The tax collector (everybody hated these guys because they would typically over-tax and pocket the excess) (Luke 19:1-10). Peter who denied even knowing Him (Luke 22:54-62). Judas who sold Jesus to be killed (Luke 22:1-6). A woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). Children (Matthew 19:14). A man justly crucified alongside Jesus (Himself wrongly crucified and nearing death at this point) (Luke 23:39-43). Political leaders (John 18:28-40). Those responsible for his crucifixion (Luke 23:34).
Nobody was left off the table.
Why did Jesus reach out to these people? What was His agenda? What could He possibly gain from all this?
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Jesus got nothing out of it. There were no points He earned. No respect or admiration. No financial reward. No eternal life guarantee (in fact, as He neared His death, He feared He might never recover from it, but He still went through with it anyway (Luke 22:42). His agenda was simple: give people the chance to have their connection with the Father repaired.
So I know who He evangelized, and I know why He evangelized, but how did He conduct His evangelism?
He offered His services and abilities to those who needed it, and He built relationships. He healed. He fed. He visited. He attended their weddings and their funerals. He hung out with them, all of them, all the time. He actually rarely preached until near the end. He answered their questions and offered thought-provoking insights to encourage conversation and debate. He even met with them secretly if they were unable or unwilling to do so publicly. Once relationships were developed, crowds came to Him looking for something more. They came to Him.
In conclusion, Jesus’ target audience for his missionary evangelism was everybody. His reason for doing it was just to let people see through His own actions and hear through His speech the true, unadulterated, character of the Father. He accomplished this through lifting other people up. He lifted others that they might see God. And He just cared.
No agenda. No brownie points for Jesus. He wasn’t interested in church membership numbers, baptism count, or tithe amount collected. No figures. No records. He just wanted to SHOW people what God was really like.
So, to paraphrase Bob Goss’ statement: demonstrate true love by caring without an agenda.