Lent No. 4: On A Mission of Love

My devotions this Lent have centered on the Kingdom of God and the surprising nature of the Messiah when he appeared. His ministry began like this: Early on, Jesus went home to visit his native city of Nazareth, where he attended the local synagogue, as was his custom. In Jesus’s day and time, when a visiting Rabbi came to a local synagogue, it was common to ask the visitor to read from the Torah and say a few words.

Jesus was on a Mission of Love

After being asked to read, Jesus opened the books of the Torah and read from the Prophet Isaiah, where it says:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed and to proclaim the Year of the Lord’s Favor” (Luke 4:18-19).

Then, he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the person who handed it to him, and in front of everyone, said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (v. 21b). Here, in just a few words, Jesus summarized why he came and what he intended to do:

  1. He intended to proclaim the good news of God’s love; and
  2. He intended to demonstrate the Gospel by caring for the needy, freeing people from spiritual bondage, and showing people the light of God’s wisdom. And that is precisely what Jesus did. He preached and taught the good news. He proclaimed with words of power a release for those in captivity to powers and principalities. He taught and demonstrated the secret wisdom of God.

The text Jesus read that day is part of a more significant passage from Isaiah 61—a passage that happens to be the passage I was reading on the day I began this series of blogs, now four years long, on political theology and philosophy. It begins:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, and open the prison to those who are bound, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

Then comes the verse that began my labors of the past years:

They shall build up the ancient ruins, raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations (Isaiah 61:1-4).

Christians do this by building God’s Kingdom of love in their lives and the lives of others.

The Kingdom Program of Jesus

How is the Kingdom of God to come into the world? How are we to repair the ruins and devastations of our society? As Jesus said goodbye to his disciples at the end of his ministry and the end of his last meal, he shared what they were to do: “Love one another as I have loved you,” and he described for them the content of that love, “Greater love has no one than this, that he give up his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13). The method (the “how”) by which we accomplish the mission and ministry of Jesus is to demonstrate sacrificial love to others. The church of Jesus Christ is on a mission—and that mission is a mission of love shared with the world. That is the simple key to reconstructing our families, neighborhoods, communities, cities, states, and nations.

The key to accomplishing Jesus’ mission of love is pretty simple: We have to learn to love the way Jesus loved, and that means we need to practice loving God and others.

This brings us to the Great Commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39; Mark 12:30-31). The “alls” in all this scare us. How can I love God with “all my heart,” “all my soul,” and “all my mind,” and how can I love my neighbor, whom I barely know, more than I love myself? We all sense that we can’t accomplish all this under our power, no matter how hard we try. That is where Grace and the Holy Spirit come into play.

Finally, there is this Great Commission: “Go you therefore into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 26:18-19). Our first thought is, “You mean God wants you and me to go everywhere in the world, live as itinerant evangelists, and preach?” That seems too much.

A former pastor of my former church, Bob Crumpton, whose funeral was Saturday, when he preached on this text, was helpful when he reminded us that in Greek, the form is a participle and that an equally good translation is, “As you are going….” In other words, “As you are going about your day-to-day life wherever I take you, make disciples.”) [1]Being on God’s mission of love is mainly being open to God’s leading and sharing God’s love as we follow God wherever we are and wherever we are going. It is a lifestyle.

How to Love the Way Jesus Loved

In this blog, I want to share some simple, practical things we can do to sense the love of God in our lives and reach out to others as part of God’s mission of love. First, let’s look at the big picture. There are three things we need to do to be about God’s mission:

  1. The first thing is to develop a deep love relationship with God.
  2. The second is to develop deep love relationships with others.
  3. The third thing is to put the love of God to work in our day-to-day lives.

Love God; Love Others; Put that love to work in our day-to-day lives: This is the key to sharing the love of God with others as we have seen it in Jesus Christ.

Practical Ways We Can Be a Part of God’s Kingdom Mission

            Once we have the big picture in mind, the next question is, “What concrete things can we do to be about this mission?” There are a lot of things we might do, but here are just a few: [2]

First, Have a Daily Meditation Time. If you want to grow in Christ-likeness, the first thing to do each day is to set aside no less than fifteen minutes, and possibly thirty minutes or more, to study scripture personally and pray for others. If you go to any Christian bookstore, there are many devotional guides that you can use to develop the habit of a quiet time. Secular bookstores have many such devotional guides.

Over the years, many people have begun by using Oswald Chambers’s My Utmost for His Highest as their first guide. [3] The best way to begin praying daily is to make a prayer list and begin praying the names of the persons and needs on the list. After a time, you will add your names, and you may begin to listen to God silently, allowing God’s love to fill your heart.

Second, Grow Closer to those Closest to You. It is really hard to have a good relationship with God if you don’t have good relationships with those closest to you. Parents, spouses, children, and family are the closest people to us. And they are worth some time and energy so that we can develop better relationships with them.

Third, Be Regular in Worship. In most churches, on an average week, just over half of Church members attend. Worship is a weekly discipline that empowers us to continue in the Christian life. I liken it to filling up my car. About once a week, I fill up my car. It won’t run forever on that one tank, but it will run for a while. We need weekly communal encouragement in the Christian life and a weekly infilling of the Holy Spirit to keep going. If you want to be filled with God’s love, come to worship and participate with all your heart.

Fourth, Participate in a Smaller Group. As I mentioned a minute ago, we all need relationships to grow. We need relationships with spouses, children, parents, and extended family. We also need small group relationships. We need relationships of Agape Love with other men and women, other young people, and people with whom we can share our Christian walk, hopes, dreams, successes, failures, temptations, and the rustling of the Spirit in our souls. In many of my churches, we had Circles of Concern, Presbyterian Women’s Circles, a Men’s Group, small group Bible Studies, DiscipleBible Study classes, Reunion Groups, Life Groups, Prayer Groups, and other small groups.

Frankly, what small group or groups you are in is not important. What is important is that you are in one where you can share God’s love with other people.

Fifth, Participate in a Ministry within the Local Church. Those who have done The Purpose Driven Life study know that one essential of Christian growth is to have some ministry with others inside the local church. [4] It is in the local church, as we share God’s love with others, that our faith takes a big step forward. When we minister to others, we reach beyond the people we are like. In small groups, in family, and in Bible studies, we choose with whom we share God’s love. But, when we move out into ministry, we enter that time when God decides, and we have to love those whom God puts in our path – even if we don’t like them.

Finally, Be a part of Some Mission Outreach. Many mission opportunities are available to Christians to share God’s love outside the local church. My former church was a part of Soup Kitchens, the Memphis Interfaith Hospitality Network, Memphis Union Mission, and a ministry to children in schools and apartments near our congregation. We were part of Living Waters for the World and had active mission programs in Honduras, Ghana, Mexico, and the Philippines. We are part of the founding group for Casa Mami, an orphanage in Mexico.

Mission is where we reach out beyond the walls of our local church and share God’s love with those in need in some way. Mission is where we share Christ beyond the walls of Advent to touch lives with the gospel of life and with the love of God in Christ. I don’t know how many of our members are engaged in a mission beyond the walls of Advent, but it is a pretty large number, indeed a couple of hundred people. But that is not enough. Mission – reaching out to others in the name of Christ – is one more step in being a part of God’s Mission of Love to the world.


There is a lot more to building the Kingdom of God than one short blog can capture, and there is also more to building the Kingdom than any one person can do. That is why the church and real, authentic Christian community are so essential. Jesus did not try to live the Christian life alone. He lived in a community with the disciples. We are not Jesus, and we need the constant challenge, love, support, and encouragement of the Body of Christ even more.

Jesus went to the Cross as an act of love. He did so to offer a way for the human race to restore its broken relationship with God, other people, and the world. His chosen vehicle is finite, limited, and sometimes selfish people, just like you and me. His structure for accomplishing this mission is the church. As we enter the final two weeks of Lent, let us ponder the concrete things we can do to be more effective and open disciples of the one who gave himself for us.

Copyright, 2007, G. Christopher Scruggs, All Rights Reserved.

[1] In Greek, a participle, which is the form used, can be an imperative (“Go!), but it can also be temporal (“As you are going”). That is the point that Dr. Crumpton liked to make. I develop this quotation from Robert  in Crisis of Discipleship: Renewing the Art of Relational Disciple-Making (Richmond, VA: Living Dialog Ministries, 2024).

[2] Of course, there are many important things disciples of Jesus do. This is not an exhaustive list; it is just a beginning. I dealt with this in Crisis of Discipleship: Renewing the Art of Relational Disciple-Making (Richmond, VA: Living Dialog Ministries, 2024).

[3] Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for his Highest Orig. copyright, (Westwood, N.J.: Dodd, Mead and Co/ Barbour and Company), 1935).

[4] Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002)