TFI’s Core Values: Living “as unto Him”

By Peter Amsterdam

November 26, 2013

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For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.[1]

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.[2]

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’[3]

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.[4]

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.[5]

The Family International’s ninth and last core value is:

Living “as unto Him.” We put our faith into action and reach out to weary and troubled hearts, the disadvantaged, downtrodden, and needy, as unto Jesus.

Jesus came to serve, and we are called to do likewise. Serving those in need is a beautiful way to express our faith. The underprivileged, the needy, the hungry, need to know they are loved and cared about, that they are valued. God values them, and as Christians, we do as well.

Serving in orphanages, visiting the sick, ministering to prisoners, digging wells, teaching the underprivileged, participating in medical camps, advocating for the oppressed, and so much more, are valuable ways to make the world a better place and to bring the Spirit of Jesus into the lives of those in need. In such activities you may not always be able to speak about your faith, but you are living your faith through showing God’s love by putting your care and concern into action. The recipients of your love are recipients of God’s love, as you are doing these things “as unto Him.”

Saint Augustine said: “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”[6]

When speaking about God working through us, our founder, David, said:

He has no hands but your hands and He has no lips but yours, and He has no eyes but your eyes and no body but your own. For you are His body, His bride for whom He died that you might live and love others as He did—with your hands, your lips, your mouth, your tongue, your eyes and your body broken for them as He was for you, your blood shed for them as His was for you, your life given for them as His was for you, to even die for them as He did for you![7]

How did Jesus live? What was He known for? He had compassion, was patient. He fed the poor and healed the sick. He had a heart of mercy and forgiveness. He was good and caring, and He loved unconditionally. He showed concern. He was truthful, and He was intimate with His followers and with His heavenly Father. He had a mission; he came to serve, not to be served. The traits that drew people to Jesus are the traits that should draw others to us, His followers. We ought to say, as John the Baptist did, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”[8]

Living our faith and following in Jesus’ footsteps means putting faith into action and caring for others in every possible way, and doing so as unto the Lord. We search out those who may be healthy, wealthy, and wise, but who are weary, troubled, and lost. We reach out to those who may be impoverished, afflicted, and in need of God’s healing balm and hope for the future. We are moved by the plights of those who are persecuted, ostracized from society, or forced into inhumane situations against their will.

No matter what the circumstances, we try to discern how to best be an example of God’s love. It is part of being the light of the world and the salt of the earth as we shine God’s light of love and truth upon those in need and demonstrate God’s love in action.

When living our Christianity, putting faith into action, pursuing God’s Spirit, we attempt to actually become like Jesus, to take on His attributes, which gives birth to mercy, compassion, having a heart for people, understanding their physical and spiritual needs, and being moved to do what we can to improve their lives, both spiritually and practically. We walk as Jesus walked. We follow the Master.

In his sermon titled “Think Hard, Stay Humble,” Francis Chan told the following story about a man named Vaughn who radiated the love of Christ to everyone that was around him. The story goes like this:

A few years ago, a missionary came to our church and told a beautiful story about sharing the gospel with a remote tribe in Papua New Guinea. At the end of the story this missionary said, “I should really give the credit to Vaughn, my former youth pastor who loved me and inspired me to live for Christ and share the gospel with others.” The next week another guy came to our church and he challenged us to start sponsoring kids living in poverty. The second speaker also concluded by saying, “I’m involved in this ministry because of my youth pastor, a guy named Vaughn.” I found out those guys were from the same youth group!

Then the next week another speaker named Dan told us about his ministry at a rescue mission in the inner city of L.A. After Dan’s talk, I casually mentioned, “It was so weird: the last two weeks both of our speakers mentioned how much impact their youth pastor, Vaughn, had on them.”

Dan looked surprised and then he told me, “I know Vaughn. He’s a pastor in San Diego now, and he takes people into the dumps in Tijuana [Mexico] where kids are picking through the garbage. I was just with Vaughn in Tijuana. We would walk in the city, and these kids would run up to him, and he would show such deep love and affection for them. He’d hug them and have gifts and food for them. He’d figure out how to get them showers. Francis, it was eerie: the whole time I was walking with Vaughn, I kept thinking, If Jesus was on earth, I think this is what it would feel like to walk with him. He just loved everyone he ran into, and he would tell them about God. People were just drawn to his love and affection.”

And then Dan said this, “The day I spent with Vaughn was the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to walking with Jesus.”

Francis Chan concluded: Hearing this made me think, Would anyone in their right mind say that about me? Would anyone say that about you? … As I thought about all this, I prayed, “Lord, that’s what I want. I don’t want to be the best speaker in the world. That doesn’t matter. I don’t want to be the most intelligent person on the planet. That’s not what I want to be known for. I want to be known for someone saying, “Wow, he’s a lot like Jesus.”[9]

That is active Christianity. That is being Jesus for others that they might come to know the power of His love, truth, and forgiveness.

A beautiful aspect of living “as unto the Lord” is found in unseen or hidden actions, things that most people will never know about: When you finance a missionary team in a faraway country. When you give something that you need to someone who needs it more. When you sacrifice your precious free time to intercede for someone’s needs—someone who may not even know that you’re praying for them. We do these things as unto the Lord. If you’re not in a position to be involved in frontline mission work, you can be on the front lines in prayer. You can pray for people’s souls, for their lives. You can pray for their ministries, their needs.

What we do for others—our service, our prayers, our giving—we do for Jesus. We don’t do it for recognition, for numbers, for monetary gain, or to advance in society. We do all that we do, in any ministry, to glorify the Lord. That is part of living “as unto Jesus.

Our aim is to lift up Jesus, not ourselves. As the popular quote that has been passed down through the years says: “One can do a great deal of good in this world if one does not care who gets the credit for it.”[10] That is certainly true. And I would venture to say that a loving action or deed can be even more effective when one does it as unto the Lord, giving God all the glory and all the credit.

2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” That is an awesome statement. Let’s take look at the first phrase, “we are ambassadors for Christ.”

What is an ambassador? According to Wikipedia, an ambassador is an official envoy, a diplomat who represents his or her country, government or sovereign, an authorized representative or messenger.

So we are official envoys and representatives for Christ. We are citizens of heaven and we represent the kingdom of God. We’re on temporary assignment on earth to represent our country, our ruler. It’s a great honor to be an ambassador, and we must conduct ourselves accordingly.

The next part of this verse says, “God making his appeal through us.” That means that God is reaching out to the world through us. He is giving His message through us. Just as a worldly ambassador is the face of his country to the people he encounters, so are we the face of God and His kingdom. We’re meant to give those we come in contact with a taste of heaven, a taste of the heavenly culture that we represent.

One of the purposes of an ambassador is to work for peace, to promote peace. We represent the Prince of Peace and we are tasked with giving His message to the world. And what is that message? The second half of the verse clearly presents the message that we are to give: “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”[11]

Jesus is counting on us to represent Him to those around us, to tell them the wonderful news that they can be reconciled to God! And consider this: There are millions, even billions, of people who do not know God personally, who have never heard of Jesus and who have no knowledge of the gift of salvation, and the treasure of eternal life that awaits them at their mere acceptance of Jesus as their Savior. Our privilege is to share that good news, to introduce people to Jesus, and ultimately, to bring as many people with us to heaven as possible.

May we each be an active and worthy ambassador of Christ. We represent not just a beautiful, wonderful country on earth. We represent the most lovely, spectacular realm in the whole universe—the kingdom of God. We should have immense pride in the high calling that we have been given. It is truly a privilege to serve as one of God’s ambassadors, and we can and should convey Jesus’ love, care, and compassion in everything we do, whether small or great. By “taking on the form of a servant,” Jesus set the greatest example of service this world will ever see.[12]

Mother Teresa said:

I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, This is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him. I serve because I love Jesus.

That quote expresses the very heart of this core value. We serve because we love Jesus. Our love moves us to serve others on His behalf. It motivates us to be His ambassadors in whatever situation we find ourselves. It compels us to allow Him to use us to practically assist those in need, and to provide hope and healing to those with broken hearts. As we see Jesus in every person we encounter, we will act more like Him.

We are His hands to help and touch, His mouth to speak the truth and give encouragement and hope, His eyes to convey compassion, His feet to walk alongside a weary soul, and His arms to help carry their heavy burden. We do this for Him, as unto Him, because we are trying to do what He would do if He were here. We have the recorded example of Jesus’ life on earth that shows us how much He loved us—His creations. We know from the Bible how compassionately He interacted with those alive in His day. We can see how engaged He was when He discussed matters with His disciples and with those He spoke to.

Put yourself back 2,000 years if you can, for just a moment, and imagine what it would have been like to meet Jesus. Think about what it would have been like to have a conversation with Him, the very Son of God. Imagine the understanding, the compassion, the love. Can you even grasp seeing the Son of God—the embodiment of God in the flesh—and hearing Him speak, listening to Him tell you about His Father, about the world to come, about why we were created, and about God’s marvelous plan for mankind? What a beautiful thing!

We haven’t had that experience personally, but nonetheless, Jesus has entrusted us with the responsibility of passing on His personal, unconditional, all-encompassing love to our fellow man and fellow woman, to those who share the planet with us today. He trusts us to be His representation.

How do you suppose Jesus would interact with your neighbor? How would He treat a poor child who has lost her parents? How would He speak to that struggling, dejected soul who has lost his way? How would He speak to that co-worker who grates on you, who you try to avoid at all costs?

When we think about Jesus, His nature, His love, and His sacrifice on the cross for each of us, and we then answer those questions, we get a pretty good feel of how we should be interacting with those people. We who are followers of Jesus are His face, His smile, His embrace. We are what God has to work with, and Jesus is counting on us. On me. On you. On each of us.

So let’s give it our best effort, shall we? Let’s be like Jesus. Let’s love like Jesus. Let’s open our hearts to others on Jesus’ behalf. Let’s be clear conduits for God to heal and save this needy and broken world.

All that we do, in word and in deed, let’s do it as unto Jesus, for His glory.


Note:

Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptures are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


[1] John 13:15.

[2] 1 John 3:16–18 NKJV.

[3] Matthew 25:40.

[4] 2 Corinthians 4:5.

[5] 2 Corinthians 5:20.

[6] As quoted in Quote, Unquote (Victor Books, 1977) by Lloyd Cory, p. 197.

[7] As quoted in “Love for the Lost,” November 2007 (originally from May 1976).

[8] John 3:30.

[9] Bread for the Journey Blog, January 26, 2011.

[10] Author unknown. This is probably based on a quote from a Jesuit priest named Father Strickland in 1863, but it’s been paraphrased by many famous people, including Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, and others.

[11] 2 Corinthians 5:20.

[12] Philippians 2:7.

 

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