Eugene Cho

“win over” or “love on” for jesus?

I’m currently rockin’ in Knoxville, Tennessee. I have the privilege of being one of the morning teachers of an event called CHIC2009 – a gathering of 5200+ high schoolers from all around the country. I’m simply teaching one message but 8x to 600+ students at a time (twice/day).  I’d really appreciate your prayers.

I was asked to speak on the topic of  ‘my relationship with others.’

Simple enough but it’s clearly one of those things that seem much easier said than done.  My sermon – through various points – seeks to explain this:

…more and more Christians are falling in love with the idea of loving and serving our neighbors…than actually loving and serving our neighbors.

And one of the most important ways we love and serve our neighbors is if we build relationships with people.

And this is where I get a lot of push back from people. By building relationships with people, we need to let go of the agenda of “evangelism” and “let’s convert this person to Jesus Christ.”   When people wonder why people get scared and weary of christians, it’s because we seek other people as targets, projects, and people to “win over” or “love on” for Jesus.  Just be a good a neighbor and that in itself is Jesus honoring.  Build relationships. Learn the stories of others. Share your story.  Be a good listener.  Be intentional about being in relationships with people that don’t look/feel/act/think like you.

I understand the whole motivation behind “win over” and “love on” for Jesus but I don’t want any of that if you’re not actually interested in knowing my story, sharing your story, and growing a relationship.

Just reflect on the life of Jesus and he modeled those very things…

What do you think?

Of course, sharing the gospel is important. Live it out, be a good neighbor, be a good “lover”, care for others, and when opportunities arise and asked, never be ashamed in articulating the good news personified in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ…

And by the way, I got a chance to play teenager last night and rocked to the David Crowder band. They made my list of favorite bands. Check out this this short clip featuring one of my favorite songs, O Praise Him, but also soak in the crowd of 5200+ kids worshipping God.

Filed under: bible, christianity, church, emerging church,

13 Responses

  1. randy says:

    Thanks for your chat yesterday. I was one of the counselors and really enjoyed it and know that it convicted many of my students.

  2. raymundmitchell says:

    I’m praying for your stamina. You’re going to need it.

    I remember growing up in Catholic school singing a song with the refrain, “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love”. This has stuck with me for over thirty years because of its simple message. Not by trumpeting our Christianity, or overt proselytizing will they know, but through our love. The day to day love, not the “let-me-hug-your-neck-in-the-spirit-in-a-creepy-uncomfortable-way” kind of love. The kind of love that makes you talk to the homeless sign-guy with respect and think that he could use a bottle of water after standing in the sun all day. Or just being polite even thought you know that the cashier at convenience store is going to be cranky.

  3. Having grown up in a church that emphasized “winning souls for Christ” I’m with you, Eugene, on the need to love PEOPLE. I so agree: let’s not love ON them, let’s love THEM. The image that the expression “love on” gives me is too nasty for words, and doesn’t capture what Jesus does. He doesn’t just whitewash us with His love! His love goes so deep, and is so powerful, that it penetrates to the core–cleansing, changing, drawing us closer to Him and to each other.

    What would happen if we allowed Him to use us to love like that?

    Thanks for giving our kids a different metaphysical model for discipleship. Nominalists can only deal in numbers, but Realists are able to relate to entire persons. Praying for you, for the all the leaders and the kids at CHIC!

    Blessings in Christ,

    Beth

  4. Oh, one more thing. Images can sometimes communicate more profoundly than words, so here’s what I think “loving on” looks like: : )

    http://medievalmind.blogspot.com/2009/03/lets-stop-loving-on-people-and-start.html

  5. Pam says:

    Wow, PE! Preachin’ at CHIC, you are not a serious Covy🙂

  6. joshuadf says:

    Eugene, have you read _Walking with the Poor_ by Bryant Myers? He has a lot to say on this problem of seeing persons as “targets”.

  7. Eugene Cho says:

    @pam: i hope that was a typo because i’m trying really hard to honor by ECC relationships.

    @joshuadf: no, but it sounds good. i’ll have to search it out.

  8. Ric Wild says:

    I know several students at CHIC this week including one of the main stage producers. His name is Jim Condap. I’m to the point where I can name drop in the Covenant now🙂

  9. Daniel Imburgia says:

    Pastor Cho I appreciate your insights about building and living-out loving relationships with people. I am wondering if much of the evangelistic language you question (i.e. ‘targeting, winning, etc.) doesn’t reflect a misplaced application of ‘business or marketing models’ to human relationships and evangelization; one that often categorizes people as commodities that need to be ‘re-branded’ for Christ. That model also places the evangelizer in a position of privilege and power over the sinner or ‘un-saved,’ rather than that of a brother or sister sharing in the journey towards discovering God’s love for us. Just before I checked out your post i read an essay by Herbert McCabe that said:

    “Never be deluded into thinking that if you have contrition, if you are sorry for your sins, God will come and forgive you – that he will be touched by your appeal, change his mind about you and forgive you. Not a bit of it. God never changes his mind about you. He is simply in love with you. What he does again and again is change your mind about him. That is why you are sorry. That is what forgiveness is. You are not forgiven because you confess your sin… You don’t come to confession in order to have your sins forgiven. You come to celebrate that your sins are forgiven…because your blindfold and your blindness have gone, and you can see the love God has for you.” Perhaps it could be useful to think of ‘evangelization’ as helping each other to lift our blindfolds. Thanks for your great post, obliged, daniel

  10. Pam says:

    @PE: yes, I’m sorry that was a SERIOUS typo. I meant to say “now” you are a serious Covy🙂

  11. robin says:

    Thank you so much for the message at CHIC. I was a counselor with 45 others from out group. Your message was very timely and very well received by our kids. We truly don’t know who is “in the box”.

  12. I totally agree, Eugene. If we scare people away they will never get to see the real point of Christianity; love. I’m taking it out of context but I love the quote “Love is the only shocking act left on the planet.” Relationship and love are becoming so scarce that people can’t help but see Jesus in you if you dare to really care about them.

  13. Robert says:

    Agreed. But people need to know where the love comes from. The truth without love is too hard, Love without the truth is too soft. They may not need to be told they are lost—somewhere deep inside, they already know that. But they need to know there is a way back to God and His name is Jesus. And loving on them without telling them about Jesus is a lot like feeding the hungry without teaching them how to grow more food.

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One Day’s Wages

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Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer. Seattle. 7:00pm. Desperately holding on to summer. #goldengardenpark #nofilter

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