Everyone Loved

by Joe Johns and Becky Baker

Over the next decade, what would it take to reduce lostness in southeast Fort Wayne by 20%? What would it take to see the Gospel flourish in our people and neighborhoods around us?

Such a God-sized dream of Gospel saturation requires partnership among believers and churches if we are to see 10,000 men, women, and children become baptized disciples of Jesus and begin to see their lives and neighborhoods flourish in Christ.

This vision is fueled by 4 values we see in the life of Jesus. In Jesus, we see what a flourishing human life looks like. His Gospel invites us to trust and follow him out of a perishing life due to our sin and be saved into a flourishing life through discipleship to Him.

The first of these values is: Everyone Loved.

We all have worth as humans created by God. Each person is created in the image of God and therefore has value apart from their actions, ethnicity, or beliefs. And so we regard everyone worthy of love no matter their sin, shame, upbringing or shortcoming. We are authentically ourselves with one another because there is no need to hide or fake it. Christ has first loved us, so we, too, can love others first. (Gen 1:26-27, 1Jn 4:18-20)

What if we increasingly became a community who lived as though everyone was worthy of love?

Today, our Director of Care, Becky Baker, helps us glimpse of what this value looks like in everyday action.

In 2005, just a year or so after coming onto the staff team at Fellowship, a couple named Laura and Rich showed up asking for assistance. They were struggling with finances, the pipes in their home were frozen and they were looking for some help. They arrived wrapped in dirty coats, smiles on their faces and a terrible stench that left marks on my chairs, my clothes, and my soul.

I spent time listening to their story, asking about their lives and then about their specific need. When I tried to narrow down their request, Laura replied, “we really need to do our laundry.” In my heart, in my judgement, I thought – yes, that’s a good start.

Knowing that we could not hand out cash, I offered them laundry detergent and a few other items out of the pantry, with a promise that I would check into other options for helping them with their laundry needs. I hugged Laura and shook Rich’s hand as they walked out the door. As they left, I heard someone ask, “did you get some help?” “Oh,” Richard replied, “she was very helpful.” I felt good about what I was able to do for them. I had loved them in the way I could.

Then I caught a whiff of myself.

I smelled like Laura’s dirty coat, and my hands had the scent of smoke from shaking Richards hand. And my response was to go wash my hands and get something to cover up the smell.

"Love is less about what you do and more about the motive behind you doing it."

But within seconds, the Holy Spirit said to me ever so gently – “Becky, do you really think you loved them well? Love is less about what you do and more about the motive behind your doing it.” You see, I was pleased with my action, but God wanted me to examine my heart. He wanted me to love, period. He wanted me to love as He loved me.
To love as Christ loved us is no small thing! In fact, it might cost us our lives. But it’s the value of everyone worthy of love which motivates me to live on mission. It’s the value of everyone loved that is a motivator for us at Fellowship to live out our collective mission! Our mission to partner together with Jesus to see greater Kingdom flourishing in our city and in our world begins, I believe, with valuing that everyone is loved by God, and therefore loved by us.

Some of my favorite words in the Bible are, “while we were yet”. Romans 5:8 says, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Because Jesus loved me this way, it frees me up too to love without judgement, to love folks no matter their sin, their shame, their upbringing or shortcomings. Or their smell.

You see, love comes close.
A few weeks after meeting Rich and Laura in the office, they showed up at church and I happened to run into them. It was their first Sunday attending and what an amazing teaching they heard about God’s Outrageous Love. Rich, with tears streaming down his face, grabbed me and hugged me and said, “I didn’t know…I didn’t know that I was loved that much.”

Me too, Richard, me too.
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