Conduct yourself with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.

Colossians 4: 5

 

There is a very real irony in the way that a lot of Christians are perceived in this world and in the way that many people view the church, also. We are frequently seen as angry, critical, and graceless; yet, the characteristic of God that has set us apart from the world is His grace. We are the recipients of a gift that is completely foreign to human experience in that the way that we have lived and the thoughts that we have held beg for God’s anger, disappointment, and judgment; still, He embraces our hurt and heals our wounds, and the Lord takes us into His presence and wants us to stay there for eternity.

 

God wants us to take this same approach to others. We are His children, His emissaries, and the workers in His field of souls. There are times when direct honesty is the right way to communicate with others, and there is oppressive and destructive wrong in this world that needs to be confronted. Still, God wants us to separate our view of the people that we deal with from that of the institutions that need to be changed. He also would have us seek to be loving in all situations, even ones where we are speaking hard truth. At the end of the day Christ wants us to embrace and enfold others into our lives rather than separating and isolating them.

 

The wisdom that God wants us to employ in dealing with people who don’t share our faith comes from His Spirit through His word and should be the starting place for all of our relationships. Paul makes it very clear in the way that he says this, for his words literally mean that we should “buy up all of the opportunities” that we have to show the grace and the redemptive love of Christ to others. We are to hold nothing back. There is no spiritual rainy-day fund to be kept in reserve, and we are to be as committed as Christ, Himself, in seeking after relationships with people who need to know their Savior.

 

And this is love that we walk according to his commandments

2 John 6

Most people attempt to define love. Yet, accomplishing this can be more slippery than a live fish that I am trying to handle without a net. I think that my hands are around it and that I have it under control, and then it wiggles and twists and pops out of my hands. Love can be very much like this, for I think that I truly understand how to relate to someone, how to connect at a deep and a caring level, and in an instant, I am chasing the relationship along a wet, grassy slope with my feet slipping and my heart racing.

We humans are challenged in the area of understanding and living in loving relationships. We are reluctant to get too close to people and we don’t know how to act and what to expect when we do get close. Yet this sort of deep, concerned, and caring interaction is what God designed into our hearts. We desire it and we need it; and the spiritual health and the restoration of our world depend upon our willingness to love others. God’s love is the attraction that brings people together, and it is the glue that binds us together in the community of Christ.

It is God’s love that draws people to Him. It is His love for me that has pulled me back to the Lord when I have tried to fill my life with alternate gods. This is the same love that God tells each of us to portray and to display when we interact with others. We are to always be honest, yet we are to love; we are to be direct while wrapping the conversation in the love of Christ; and we are to help people understand what is and what is not righteous living, and love absolutely through it all. In order to understand love and how to love others, we need to look to the Spirit of Christ for understanding; search God’s Word for His desires for us, for His commandments; and look deep inside at the love that God has implanted in our hearts. When we come to the place where these join up, the intersection of God’s Spirit, His Word, and Christ in our hearts, we have begun to understand love.