Summary: A look at the source of God's empathy for the people we don't care about as well as some guidance on how we can become more like God in this area.
LOOKING AT PEOPLE WE DON'T LIKE: I can roll my eyes at them.
- Most of us find it pretty easy to roll our eyes at people we don’t care for.
- We dismiss them. We find them not worth our time.
- Some of these people are those we struggle with personally.
- Others are simply part of a group of people that we don’t care for.
- Still, whatever the reason, our eye rolls put us at odds with God’s thoughts toward them.
WHY GOD CARES FOR NINEVEH: God loves everyone the way you love your kids.
- God has a deep concern for those who are lost.
- It would be like us seeing a child go off the rails. They are doing things we find repulsive and that we know are destructive for them. Still, we love them and we want to see their hearts changed. We want to do all that we can to see them get back on a good path.
- God doesn’t have the luxury. They’re all His kids.
- Jonah didn’t like these people because they were Israel’s enemies.
- We face that when praying for people from different countries or for people who’ve hurt us.
- There are others, though, that we are less than enthused about praying for.
- It may be people who aren’t “like me.”
- It may be someone that I’m not close to.
- It may be someone that I don’t click with in personality or that I find abrasive.
- It may be people who scare me a little.
- The whole point of Jesus’ mission was to seek and to save the lost. That reveals the heart of God.
- Pop quiz for us: True or false – I have a heart for the lost.
- Am I able to look at that mess of a life and think, “That’s a child of God away from home.”
- Example: I hear about a traffic accident in Danville. My thoughts go to whether Evan is home. If he’s home and ok, I’m less concerned. It’s tragic, but it’s probably not something that I’m personally heart-broken about.
- I realize within this that there are limits to how much empathy we can have with so many people who are away from God. Is there an upper limit to how much of a burden we can bear? Perhaps, but the salient point for right now is that many of us are carrying almost no burden.
- Look at them and think, “Jesus died for him.” Look at them and think, “The Father misses her.”
- Example: the relationship between the “decent, middle-class people” of our county and those struggling with drug abuse. For many of us, our primary desire is for them to keep their distance. Those who are involved in Mercy Revival are generally those who have a relative who is involved in drugs. Our default option is just to keep it away from our comfortable lives. It’s no one that I know.
AN OLD, HEAVY WORD WE NEED TO RECLAIM: Burden.
- At a minimal level, we should be bothered by it. Many of us don’t even meet that threshold.
- But that’s uncomfortable. Yes, it is. Get used to it.
- The simple, harsh reality is that too many of us do not have a burden for the lost.
- Does our heart have any more than a passing thought for them?
- A burden is a heavy thing to carry, by definition. Many of us are more focused on our own comfort than we are on the impact that we’re having for God.
FIRST STEPS TOWARD A HEART LIKE GOD'S:
1. PRAY FOR THEM BY NAME.
- Luke 18:1-8.
- Of course, we cannot pray for everyone, but we do need to be praying for a lot of people by name.
- There is someone about calling their name repeatedly over a long period of time that gradually creates an increased burden. We need to be faithful in praying for people by name.
- The path of prayer that calls out the person when they’re initially on our minds, but then doesn’t persevere in prayer for them is a shallow path.
- In Luke 18 Jesus talks about the importance of persistence in prayer. Our love for them is displayed in our desire to stick with them until they are saved.
2. THINK ABOUT HELL.
- What we’re dealing with here is an issue with eternal consequences.
- We’ve all heard the expression: “I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.” Well, that is something I think many of us would say about hell. If we really believed in hell, we’d see how big the consequences of our inaction, especially in light of what might be very petty reasons to dislike or be wary of that person.