Making disciples in a culturally diverse setting (e.g. Hispanic Americans) can be very confusing, and by its very nature, this environment is rich in possibilities for misunderstandings. Then, this beg the question, Is it possible to know – for sure – that we are following Christ Jesus in humility and experiencing a meaningful Spiritual Transformation? The answer is yes. You only need to look at two very particular things buried deep down in your heart.
His Beauty – The Person and the Work of God the Son – is so powerfully transforming that He changes our sources of delight and sorrow. Now, because of His work in us, we are sorrowful for things that we were not bother before by. Now, we delight in things that are more in sync with His own heart.
In my case, He has changed my source of delight to the point that I am less and less concerned about using human metrics to measure the success of my ministry, and more and more interested in actually loving people in a way that is relevant for them, brings honor to Him, and challenges my cultural preferences. That’s why now, I rather die loving people than pursuing fame for me or my ministry.
Now let me give you three reasons why considering loving others as the reason to live is not as crazy as it sounds:
First, because it allows me to imitate Him. Having loving others as a sources of delight is a clear intervention of God the Holy Spirit in my own heart. Loving others was not something I considered as my greatest purpose long ago; it didn’t just happened. It took years of His faithful work in me. And, in all honesty, I fought it for a long while. Loving people?!?! Do you know how messy, demanding, burdensome, unrewarding that really is? Please, I said, give me a machine (i.e. computer) to work on all day long! Send me to bury my nose in book after book after book! Heck, send me to teach, to preach, to be a theologian… but, loving others?!
But because He has restored my delights and sorrows, aligning them with His, now I want to do this. I want to be like Him. The way I love people is imperfect, limited, incomplete. But I can tell you that I do have the desire to love those the LORD has, in His wisdom, given me to remind them of Him. And in reminding them of Him, regardless of their response, I am reminded and assured that His Gospel is true in my own heart.
Second, because in doing so I can be a “hint of hope.” I do love to teach / preach and I do believe God has given me a tangible gift in these areas. But over the years, loving others has become a way to support the preaching of His Word. By loving others I can be a faithful witness to His willingness and power to save, to restore us back to Him. I can also testify that His Word is applicable and it has the power to change the human heart.
By loving others I can be a hint of hope on His finished work of redemption.
Try to do that with a PowerPoint presentation!
Being a hint of hope also allows me to take His message out, to the world, to those who are in need and who, maybe, would not consider coming to worship with us. Loving others make His Word mobile. Loving others is an effective way to overcome cultural differences. One of the best pieces of advice one of my mentors ever gave me was to err on the side of loving people – no one car argue with that, he said.
Third, because there is no greater adventure. This is my new source of delight; being a successful minister / preacher / entrepreneur does not provide for me the level of satisfaction that now my soul longs for.
A few years ago I was in a very bad place. It was one of the few occasions I seriously considered leaving full-time ministry, for good. In my mind, I was already working on my resignation letter for my boss. It was not the first time that I was assaulted by fear, doubts and anger but what made this particular occasion different that any other was the length of the episode of depression that accompanied this particular instance of ministry-related struggle.
It was so bad that I was afraid of reading anything related to tech – particularly robotics or aerospace. I really, really like these fields of engineering and my concern was that even the smallest contact with them, by reading or otherwise, would push me over the cliff, would convince me that I could be better off if I were to give up ministry and return to my former professional field of work.
Then, the LORD lead me through a study of Jeremiah and 1 Timothy. Then, the LORD met me and convinced me that there is not greater adventure, no greater source of real satisfaction than seeing Him growing my ability, desire, inclination to love others.
To prove that He had rescued me from this dark episode, I read The Right Kind of Crazy. You will be hard pressed to find another book so focused on robotics and aerospace. After finishing the book I checked my heart and found out that, yes, NASA and SpaceX had lost all their luster, for me.
Call to action
Take a good look at your sources of delight and sorrow.
- Is there among them evidence of the restoration His Beauty brings?
- Do you still see there residuals from your old self?
- Invest some time in prayer repenting, confessing and celebrating accordingly.
- Write a plan to follow up on those restored sources of delight and sorrow, pursuing your passion (using the right fuel, of course) in a way that honors Him, blesses others and gives you the time of your life.
Remember His grace for you, Follow Him in humility, Cultivate constantly, All in cultural diversity.