By Ben Simms
“How can we love people without compromising truth?”
This is a complex and challenging question, yet Jesus demonstrated it throughout his ministry. In a world that increasingly seems to want to bring down the church and challenge the teachings of Jesus, we must seek to love.
As culture wages war with the truth, we are constantly bombarded with messages that run counter to how Scripture calls us to live. One of our primary purposes on earth is to love people toward the kingdom of Jesus. The culture wars, while significant, can be a way for Satan to distract us from acting on simple opportunities to love others who are in front of us.
In a sermon series from summer 2023, Jim Burgen challenged people to “live lives that demonstrate the love of Jesus to all people in a world that seems to hate Jesus.”
So, what if we reversed the question and asked, “How can we live the truth without compromising our love for people?”
Here are some examples I’ve seen recently in the ministry I serve, Lifeline Christian Mission.
Demonstrate Love—No Matter the Person or Their Circumstances
Each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans and Canadians pack meals to help the hungry both domestically and worldwide through meal-packing events. These meals are given to people in need resulting from disasters, famine, and poverty. IDES (International Disaster Emergency Service) is one of the great Restoration Movement organizations with which we work. Lifeline also is honored to facilitate these efforts with hundreds of churches across the United States and Canada.
Here’s the beginning of a story from one family from Afghanistan that recently received some Lifeline meals.
Ms. A (name withheld to protect her identity) said,
I am a mother of five children. My husband was kidnapped by the Taliban and murdered. I was bearing a lot of suffering alone. I was a single mother and had to fight for my children. I tried to protect and take care of them but was weak against the Taliban.
The cousin of my murdered husband worked with the Taliban and forced me to marry him. I refused him saying that “I am not looking for [a] husband.” He threatened me and said he will get my children and I will never see them again. He wanted to give my daughters [ages] 13 and 8 as wives to old men from the Taliban.
After two days, they kidnapped my son, and I went to pay ransom to get him back. They took me into a room where my son was. They raped me and my son. It was a great shame to us, especially to my son R. After that horrible incident, R. began to stutter and most of the time was silent. . . .
We fled to a refugee town in Tajikistan. Life for refugees was and is unbearable in Tajikistan. No money, no food, no place to stay. We lost hope and thought we were abandoned.
R., after that incident, felt shame and cut his veins and wanted to commit suicide. I wished death to myself also. My son R. many times closed himself in the toilet and tried to kill himself. Most of the time I found him in the toilet laying on the ground crying. I decided to poison myself [and] all my children so that we all die.
But one day I met missionary Ali and her husband. She helped me and my starving family with food, clothing, and showing love and care.
Ms. A grew up Muslim and has suffered greatly. Ali, the missionary, led with love through the act of giving a meal. The kindness epitomized Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:35-40: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. . . .”
Demonstrate Truth—Don’t Stop at Love
Our call to be ambassadors for Christ, however, doesn’t end with the act of giving a meal. Ms. A’s story continues,
They also said they have “Good News” for me. They told us that Jesus loves us and gives new life, Eternal Life. These brothers always came to us and helped us with food and a place to stay. They prayed for us, demonstrated the love of God, and invited us to meetings where we met other believers. I started believing in Jesus by seeing his love through these simple, God-loving Christians.
They came to my house and invited us to Bible classes. I went to Bible school with my children. I really enjoyed Bible classes and my children felt safe in the Bible school. They prayed for me and my children. During the school time, my son R. said that he gave his life to Jesus and doesn’t want to go back to a horrible old life. R. started changing and I saw him start to smile. He stopped his suicide attempts.
It is a blessing to me as a mother to see how happy my children are and how they rejoice when we have Sunday meetings or Bible classes. Our faith is growing and getting stronger day to day. In the future, after I finish Bible school, I want to travel and share about Jesus to people.
Dozens of people were involved in Ms. A’s incredible story of finding Jesus. People cared for someone far away and provided the resource of a meal, the hands of Jesus. People delivered a meal and the gospel, the feet of Jesus. We all can play a part in demonstrating truth and love in many ways.
Demonstrate Love Challenged by Truth
In Matthew 22:36, Jesus was asked, “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (vv. 37-40, emphasis added).
To truly love ourselves, we want the best outcome. Likewise, to love our neighbors, sometimes we need to love people by challenging them to a better future and toward truths we find in Scripture.
In Honduras, Lifeline had a student named Leany. She wanted to go to summer camp with Christ In Youth in her country; she also needed money for school supplies. Times were difficult for her family. Instead of simply giving her a handout, Lifeline’s in-country staff challenged Leany to find a way to earn the money. She took part in economic business training where she learned to start a tortilla business (watch her story at www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzJw_IcKAX8).
Today Leany is supporting several family members through her business. In this case, the act of love was built around the vision and truth of God wanting an abundant life for us. Though it would have been easier to just give Leany some cash, the opportunity of sharing an even better future would have been lost.
Demonstrate Truth and Love Through Community
A great practical step is to love people by being in truth-speaking community with others. This is how Jesus designed the church.
Since 2020, Lifeline has launched several Centres in North America. People can serve in these locations, mostly by packing meals. Camaraderie develops within the community members and volunteer teams that serve at these locations. Within these communities, Christians love and support a mix of people who may never enter a church. Some of them are far from God.
Lifeline is serving the church by providing an outreach tool to a community that the local church can leverage. The beauty is found by starting with love and service that is grounded in the truth of the gospel.
Christians don’t have to go it alone. Serve with others, love with others, demonstrate truth with others. That’s my biggest takeaway from our ministry work.
It reminds me of Jim Burgen’s challenge: “Live lives that demonstrate the love of Jesus to all people in a world that seems to hate Jesus.”
Ben Simms serves as president and CEO of Lifeline Christian Mission.