We, too, were on the path that leads to destruction but now we’ve been saved by Jesus. We’ve found the truth and so out of a love for the lost we need to share the gospel with people, not to win an argument or to be someone special, but because sharing Jesus and making disciples is what every Christian is called to do (Matthew 28:19-20).
In some ways love is easy. Whether it’s loving a friend you grew up with playing together in the park, or a friend that you met at school and you share the same interests so you naturally get along and build a good and close friendship. There are some people you just naturally get along with more and that makes loving them easy. But what about those who we perceive to be different? That’s where it gets a little bit trickier doesn’t it?
Think about loving people who have different political convictions for instance. (Dare I mention the Scottish independence debate?) But more so, think about people who have a completely different worldview, and outlook on life, from you. Rather than asking us to congregate in a holy-huddle who hide away from the world, the Bible instructs us to love those who stand against everything we believe, those who are ‘lost’. There are plenty of reasons why all Christians should love the lost, but let me highlight just three.
1. They’re Lost
First of all, and this might sound obvious, but we should love the lost because they are just that: lost. Sadly, I’ve heard Christians have an attitude whereby they think that they are better than non-Christians because they know Jesus. But the reality is that we only know Jesus because He revealed Himself to us. The Bible uses different metaphors to describe those who don’t know Jesus, here are a few; non-Christians are are in darkness (John 8:12; 2 Corinthians 4:14), blind (2 Corinthians 4:4) and dead in transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1).
Just because this is no longer our reality as Christians, doesn’t mean that we should feel or act superior to non-Christians, but we should recognise the reality of their status before God. They are lost. A bit like a hiker who has wandered off the beaten track; non-Christians are distanced from the God who loves them and has created them. As Christians, we know the path, we know the way that leads to eternal life through Jesus and we should be helping our non-Christian friends, family and colleagues to look for Jesus and not go their own way. They are lost, but we can guide them and help them look for Jesus, the one who calls them to himself.
In addition to that, Jesus tells us to love our neighbour in Matthew 22:34-40. Jesus is saying that in the same way that we love ourselves, so too we should care for those around us and look out for their interests, whether they are believers or not. We’re commanded by Jesus to love our neighbours.
Loving the lost, really loving the lost, leads us to share the gospel with them and to point them to Jesus. God loves the world and so must we, we do that as we build friendships with the lost, as we care for them, but ultimately our love should be expressed in our witnessing to them and telling them about the good news of Jesus.