Love is the greatest motivation for Christian evangelism
When asked the greatest commandments of all Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40).
Both commandments have love at its very core. We learn from the Holy Bible (God inspired writings - for instructing, training, teaching, rebuking and correcting man - as revealed by The Holy Spirit of God) that God Himself is love. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8).
The two commandments are interconnected, one expresses the other. A person cannot say that they love God yet hate his brother, neighbour or foe. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. (1 John 4:20). Notice that I have included loving your foe too as love MUST extend to your enemies if one truly loves God. This is a direct command from Jesus. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:44-45).
Showing love to those whom we consider our enemy, or rather, to those who consider us their enemy is at the centre of Jesus' teachings. Admittedly, this goes against the 'natural' instincts of the sinful man. As natural as it may feel to seek retribution and vengeance, they will only inspire the same feelings in the person in whom you sought to punish for their wrongdoing against you. This does not excuse injustice nor am I advocating that crimes go unpunished. That would simply be irresponsible.
The law of man must be administered fairly, objectively and proportionately. Justice must be administered in a fair society. However, what I am talking about here is the ability to love one's enemies with or without the application of human law when one has been transgressed. This is a higher expression of virtue and it mirrors the very nature of God. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8). You see, justice demands punitive corrective action for wrongdoing. It lacks compassion or mercy. It is absolute. Justice seeks to re-establish and/or correct the disequilibrium created by the violation of order or wrongdoing. Justice is noble. However, mercy (compassion or forgiveness) is more virtuous than justice (or judgement) and it is an expression of love. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8). God has every right to administer judgement (justice) for sin. Infact, scripture tells us that the consequences of sin is death. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23). Death is the just reward for sin. This is without exception if the law is to be applied absolutely. However, God did not remove justice (judgement) for sin. Instead, He upheld His own virtues and unchanging character by sending His Son Jesus Christ as a sin offering for us all. As such, those who believe in and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, and repent of their sins will not have to pay for their sins (with death). Instead, they will be totally forgiven and made right with God. This is because Jesus Christ already paid the full price of our sins with His own very life. This is love. This is mercy. This is compassion. And it is also justice. The remarkable thing about this is that Jesus did all this for us whilst we were still enemies of God. God didn't wait for us to first change and become deserving of His love. Rather, He took the first step and demonstrated His love for us by sacrificing His Son's (Jesus) precious and blameless life for us that we may have life in Him. For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Romans 5:10).
Knowing that Jesus Christ paid the price for your sin with His own very life, can you really demand retribution from anyone who transgresses against you? This question is directed at Christians and not to unbelievers. If you are an unbeliever, unfortunately, you will have to answer to God for your transgressions against His laws. Your sins have not been paid for with the blood of Jesus as you have not yet confessed your sins to Jesus and given Him your life that He may reconcile you to God The Father through His blood. If you are reading this then it is not too late for you. Simple ask Jesus into your life right now and ask for His forgiveness for your sins. Then find a local Christian Holy Bible based church and ask the pastor (or Church leaders) to teach you how to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Then follow Jesus. It's really that simple.
Love must be the motivation for our actions and decisions. Most of us will not question our own motives as we mostly believe that our motives are good. However, if you closely examine your heart to determine the root desire for your actions, it may surprise you to learn that you often or mostly act out of any of the following motives - pride, selfishness, seeking something in return from others, seeking reward from God for your good deeds, fulfilling a debt (real or perceived), vanity (look at how good I am because of the good deed I have done), one-upmanship and hoping to curry favour from the recipient one day when you need something from them etc. It would not be an exaggeration to say that very few people consistently show love without condition. Nevertheless, we should all strive to love one another without condition as Christ loved us. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34). Incidentally, the love that Jesus referred to was one of servitude and humility. Consistently and repeatedly putting the needs of others above your own.
Evangelism (the public preaching of the gospel of Jesus and being a personal witness of His grace upon your life) should be driven by the two greatest commandments mentioned at the start of this article. Knowing that you were once dead in your sins and through love Jesus Christ saved you, and knowing that Jesus can use you to share this Good News with others so that they too can be saved is an act of love. The love for the lost and the burning desire to see them saved, and proactively doing something about it (evangelise) is Christianity. The sharing of the gospel of Jesus with a dying world will be your greatest love story.