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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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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