We have been talking this month about our core value of being Passionate about People.
Doesn’t that sound great? It might be because I’m a raving extrovert, but I LOVE this value. And it gets better as we dig into it.
Being Passionate about People starts with a deep conviction that Each One of us is uniquely made by God, incredibly valuable and beautifully made for a purpose. Then we explored how we are made for life Together – to encourage, empower, and support one another; how we only fully become who we are each made to be when we commit to living and loving together.
So far so good, upbuilding and friendly. But then we hit one of the most crucial parts – being Passionate about People (when we have Jesus at the heart of our lives) – means that we live For Others. The Christmas season often has us thinking about others, it’s the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ and we think of it as a generous time. But the others we share with at Christmas, are usually our loved ones, not the unlovely ones.
“The Church is the only society on earth that exists for the benefit of non–members.”William Temple
For Others. This is for those not like us. For those with nothing to give. For those who are broken, messy, and in need. For those who have everything together. For those who we enjoy being around. For those that we really don’t. For those we understand. For those who fail to understand us.
We exist for anyone who does not yet know that they are loved, uniquely made for a purpose, and welcomed into the family of Father God through the price Jesus paid as he hung on the cross for them.
Jesus, in his time on earth, was constantly getting into trouble for his passionate pursuit of those on the outside, the rejected, the far-from-God and beyond-the-pale. In Bible book Luke chapter 19 Jesus is surrounded by a crowd of people desperate to catch just a glimpse of him, but in front of everyone he invites himself round to the house of Zacchaeus – a chief tax collector, hated by every person there for betraying his nation and extorting his fellow townspeople. The crowd are enraged – how could you Jesus?! How could you possibly want that scumbag, that thieving deceiving waste of space?! But Jesus replies:
“The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost”Jesus. Luke 19:10
I’m challenged and shaped by two things from this story. First, that Jesus’ passion for others calls us far beyond those people we would like, feel comfortable, or think deserve our help. He constantly challenged people to see that love extends even to those we find the most undeserving and difficult to love. And second, he loves people by name. Jesus doesn’t just use a story of a theoretical chief tax collector to make his point to the crowd…he shows his love for Zacchaeus, the man they knew with a face, a name, and a past. Even when Jesus does use stories (like the Good Samaritan), it’s explaining the very practical love people have seen him lavishing on those who should never have received it.
This shapes the kind of people we want to be as a church at Barking Riverside. It shapes our passion for each one and doing life together. When we share Jesus’ passion for others – for others with names and pasts and reasons to be missed out and avoided – then we realise that these people too are part of the Each One uniquely and incredibly made, and they get to become part of the community Together who need each other so that we can reach out with love to even more who seem so far gone, forgotten.
On Sunday@6pm we’ll share about our final core value – to be Dreamers who Dare to make a Difference – but for now let me leave you with this thought: who do you know around you who you can love this week? Who would you find hardest to be kind to? Why not start with them.