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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People often ask, "How does one stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much. I like the rain. Keeps everything "evergreen" and clean. Keeps our air fresh. What's challenging is the gray weather. Give me a few more sunny days. 99 more days to be specific. 
Regardless, still love this city. Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother.

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