Jesus' obedience to the Father didn't start on earth; it was there from eternity past. He was willing to wait 4,000 years, watching the desperate plight of the people He had created, until the Father said it was time for Him to go and redeem them.
And then, in human flesh, Jesus waited again for 30 years, working as a carpenter and learning obedience, before He could begin the ministry the Father had sent Him to undertake.
Finally, He had three-and-a-half years to accomplish everything He came for. And every step of the way, He did nothing on His own, but only what the Father told Him to do.
If I were in Jesus' place, I imagine I would have asked myself, "What must I do to make sure all this waiting, agony, sacrifice and suffering will result in getting the Good News to every nation of the world in the fastest and most understandable way?"
The Most Effective Way
Reading through the Gospels, I eagerly looked for Christ's blueprint for this question, but I found none. Then I stumbled upon Scripture portions like this one: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34–35).
In other words, the most effective way for people to understand the Gospel is through relationship. "Love one another" is the greatest of all mysteries that ushers in God's kingdom.
We don't really like this answer, because no matter where we live in the world, our biggest challenge is the people we live with. However, Jesus never altered His plan just because we find it hard to love others.
Rules, regulations, procedures and leadership skills are good within any family, organization or body of believers. But in the end, nothing really works unless we understand about loving and caring for one another—and put it into practice.
Two Wings to Fly
But then we run into the problem of finding balance. We often deal with people who exasperate us and test our patience.
At what point do we tell them enough is enough? Do we love them until the end, like Jesus did with the disciples, taking upon Himself suffering and agony?
As a leader, I have sometimes made decisions on the side of my responsibility, stewardship, morality, ethics and radical commitment to evangelical faith—only to find out a few years later that I was wrong and that I should have loved a little longer. This awareness is one of the most difficult things I now live with.
It's important for us to remember that a bird cannot fly with one wing! It needs two.
Often you hear or read radical messages from me that challenge you to total commitment and extreme sacrifice, asking you to give up everything for the sake of the Gospel and walk away from everyone who holds you back from embracing the cross.
My dear friend, this is all accurate, but it is only one wing of the bird.
The other wing is what God said to Moses when he asked to see God's glory:
"The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, . . . forgiving . . . " (Exodus 34:6–7).
If we want to be His children, we too need to love others just as He loves us.
There is not one of us who has not sinned. But I want you to know that love, grace and mercy become authentic only when we fail.
We're All On a Journey
That was the experience of the woman who was caught in adultery and brought to Jesus so He could judge her according to the Law. He was the only person who ever walked on earth who was qualified to say, "Go ahead and stone her." But He didn't. Instead, He showed mercy and sent her away in peace, calling her to sin no more.
We so often demand spiritual perfection from our fellow Christians, forgetting that each of us is on a journey to become more like Jesus. This journey takes time, and people will frequently fall short. But instead of showing love and compassion, we judge them. Those whom God has pulled out of the deepest pit and shown the most mercy often become harsh, unbending and merciless toward their children or younger believers.
My dear friend, please don't let your discipleship and militancy drown out kindness and mercy.
Let us remember to fly with two wings: total commitment and unconditional love. Then the world will understand the Gospel and come to know the Savior.
Dr. K.P. Yohannan
Founder & Director of Gospel for Asia
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About 5 Minutes with K.P.
5 minutes with K.P. is a short devotional that first appeared in our ministry magazine, GFA World and is written by Gospel for Asia's Founder and Director, Dr. K.P. Yohannan.