Furthering Christ's Ministry in a Divided World
- Wednesday, September 03, 2008
(Romans 8:11)—who is more than sufficient to enable us to model a selfless, you-first life to a desperate and dying world.
The Story of Mark
Years ago I was working on a writing project about homosexuality and AIDS, and how the church should respond. My focus was a call to unconditional love without condoning sinful behavior. However, that call didn’t become real for me until I began to work with a young man named Mark, a homosexual activist with AIDS.
Though he agreed to work with me on the project so I could more clearly understand and explain his position, he also told me from the outset that he hated people like me (Christians) and blamed us for all his problems. He also made me promise I wouldn’t “preach at him” during the time we worked together on the project.
I honored my promise, and though it was a rocky relationship, we grew close during the months we worked together. I never preached at him, but he read every chapter, every page, every word of the manuscript, including the Scriptures interspersed throughout. One day, only a couple of weeks after the project was completed, Mark called me and said, “Kathi, do you really believe all that Jesus stuff you wrote about in the book?” I assured him I did, and then he said, “OK, you’ve got five minutes to tell me why I shouldn’t kill myself right now.”
It took much longer than five minutes, but by the time we concluded our conversation, Mark had prayed to receive Jesus as His Savior. Two weeks later, he died, but not before calling me one last time, just two days before his death. “Kathi,” he said, struggling to breathe, “I’m so tired. I can’t wait to go home and see Jesus.”
For months I had bit my tongue, forcing myself to remain silent when I wanted so much to preach the gospel to that young man. It wasn’t easy, but God’s Spirit was speaking to Mark’s heart, even when I couldn’t. And He was speaking to my heart as well. Where once I would have focused on Mark’s behavior and his need for repentance, I learned to focus on loving him instead, on putting his feelings above my own, even when he made snide and sarcastic remarks about my faith. In the end, I realized I had been privileged to partner with God in the ministry of reconciliation, and I now rejoice to know that I will one day see that precious young man again.
Before concluding this chapter, let me clarify one point. Living a you-first life does not mean that we refuse to actively stand for righteousness, or that we accept sin and neglect to lovingly point people in the right direction. We cannot ignore the evil around us. However, we must remember Paul’s words to the Ephesians: we don’t wrestle with flesh and blood; rather our battle is against unseen forces of wickedness (see 6:12).
No matter how rude, obnoxious, or hateful those who want to be our enemies may seem, we must treat them with love. They may be blinded, deceived individuals, but their souls are precious to our Lord, as I learned so clearly in my relationship with Mark. And so, we fight for them, not against them, and we do it on our knees, because “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4).
By overcoming evil with good and by fighting for others in prayer rather than against them in the flesh, we model a you-first life in a me-first world. We will be doing unto others what we would have them do to us. And people will recognize there’s something different about us, something in absolute contrast to the dying, me-first world around them. Sadly, many will choose to remain in that dying world. But others will respond by choosing life, joining us in the privileged ministry of reconciliation to which our Lord has called us—regardless of the cost.
This article is an adapted excerpt from Kathy Macias' book, Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World (New Hope Publishers, 2008.) Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Kathi Macias, popular speaker and prolific author, is an Angel-award winning writer who has published twenty-one books and hundreds of articles. Whether keyboarding her latest book, keynoting a conference, or riding on the back of her husband’s Harley, Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias is a lady on a mission to communicate God’s vision. Her insightful words—filled with passion, humor, and soul nourishment—refresh audiences from all walks of life, and her Spanish devotionals, “Desde el Corazon del Padre,” (with English translations) can be found on Crosswalk.com each Monday. Her latest book, BEYOND ME: LIVING A YOU-FIRST LIFE IN A ME-FIRST WORLD, named “top pick” in the Christian Living category by Christian Retailing magazine, released July 1, 2008, from New Hope Publishers. It's available at bookstores nationwide, as well as at online bookstores and on Kathi’s website, www.kathimacias.com.
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