by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 ESV
Once I did something badly until I achieved success.
In my forties, after several years of training, I earned my first-degree black belt. I was last in my class.
It never stopped surprising everyone, including me, that I’d managed this feat. I was driven, by my love for the martial artists in my Bible Study. Before karate, I’d only invested time in things at which I excelled. I was a good student, talented musician, promising writer. Clumsy with my feet, I never attempted athletic pursuits.
Initially, I thought God drafted me into karate so I could minister better to the women in my small group. But I came to see the value of pursuing a goal that seemed impossible, one where I trailed my classmates from day one to graduation.
Besides the honing of my humility, God showed me that He does, indeed, call His people to do some things badly.
He commands us out of our comfortable chairs and into pursuits that don’t present us in the best light, that remind us we have much to learn, require us to depend on others, and drive us to cry out to Him for strength and persistence when ours has been drained from us. There has never been a time when this was more needed in the church than now.
As the battle for souls intensifies, God is calling all hands, on deck. There are countless souls wandering the earth in darkness, blindly groping for the truth, wondering if they’ll ever find their way and feeling unloved by God, angry, hopeless, and alone. There are more people than your pastor can reach, or Billy Graham or KLove Radio. God never intended the furthering of His kingdom to be something accomplished solely by professionals, applauded by amateurs from their pews.
Building God’s kingdom is, in fact, a calling for oafs. It’s a task uniquely suited for the weak, meek, stumbling, fumbling, falling, appalling, imperfect, and unfinished: the inept lot of us that Christ called to Himself and adopted into His family.
God designed this work for us outlaws who have already pled guilty, received our sentence and our pardon, and now live free – with nothing to prove and nothing to lose, so we may, in return, boldly and sometimes badly love those who Jesus loves, in His name.
Ask hard questions. Have I slipped into that comfy space of only taking on what I know I can do in my own strength? Am I only loving people easy to love? Am I only communicating with people I understand or who understand me?
Do I function as if I believe God only ministers through me when I look strong, competent, intelligent, and secure? Am I passing on invitations from God to offer people a love that fumbles around searching for the open door because I don’t want people to think I’m inept or lacking?
God calls His imperfect church, to love others, falteringly, fallibly, but faithfully. Initially, we will love badly, but this can be overcome with persistence, practice, the Holy Spirit’s coaching, and reliance on God.
Why does the church love so badly? Because we’re attempting the impossible in a world where most love grows cold. Because we’re trying to love the way God loves. Because we have an enemy putting obstacles in our path at every turn.
The amazing thing isn’t how badly we love – it’s that many of us keep trying. And that He uses our faltering attempts at love to reach hearts for Him.
Let’s get out there today (and the day after) and love others badly, serve others poorly, and worship like oafs until, by God’s grace, we fumble our way into loving like Christ.
About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.
Join the conversation: When has God used your fumbling attempts to reach others for Him?