Love was manifest (made clear) to us in the gift of Christ Jesus our Lord, who died for us while we were still His enemies (Romans 5:6,10). God is love (1 John 4:8,16). Love comes from God (1 John 4:7), and those who love have been born of God and know God (1 John 4:7-8). In fact, our faith works through love (Galatians 5:6). In other words, we are saved because of God's love for us, our love for God and for one another comes from Him, and all the works of faith are worked through love. As my grandmother likes to say, "Love is the key."
So why am I saying all this? "Don't we already know it?" Well, because when I drove through the city of York today, I was praying for God's love to work in me to love the people. I met my friend, Matt, in the square. We stood there for about 5 seconds when we met a guy carrying a motorcycle helmet who said he didn't believe in God. I talked with him for about 10-15 minutes, appealing to the fact that he knew when he was a child that there was a God, and that he was afraid of dying (I said it all in a gracious manner). We talked a little about Creation and the Fall in Genesis, but my main focus was testifying to God's love shown in that He loved me while I was a self-righteous religious hypocrite and an enemy of God when He reconciled me by grace. This guy at first didn't look like he wanted to talk, but he ended by thanking me and accepting a small gospel of John. I ended by pointing him to Jesus and saying, "You cannot believe, because faith is a gift that God must give." (See Ephesians 2:8). He agreed with that statement more than anything, and perhaps he will read that gospel of John (See John 20:31).
The next person we met was Brad. He was in his early twenties and is white. He lives in the city and told me some guys on one street threatened him with a gun. He seemed a little stressed out. I thought he probably had a mental illness, and he told me he is bi-polar and had been praying because of his suicidal thoughts. We went to McDonald's to sit down and talk. While we were there, one of the older black women said he was her neighbor. She sees me come in every week, so I think they are opening up a little. We sat down and talked about our health conditions and our outward vices, each of us sharing similar but different problems, then we talked about the ROOT of the problem - SIN. I kept pointing Brad to Christ as the answer, and he said, "He's the root killer!" I said, "Yeah, He killed our sin root problem in His own body when He was crucified." Brad wanted our phone numbers, so perhaps he will meet with us again. He said God meant for us to meet today. (Of course, a lot more was said concerning the gospel in these conversations, but I cannot write it all. My main text was Romans 5:6,8,10).
Last of all, as Matt left, I was at the cross walk, and there were a group of Hispanic Christians preaching in the Square from a loudspeaker. They had a bunch of people from their own church standing around with tracks. It was all in Spanish, so I couldn't understand what they were saying, except for, "A Su nombre Gloria!" ("Glory to His name!" I'm not sure if I worded that right?). There was a girl standing at the cross walk, so I handed her a gospel tract and asked her some questions. I will call her "Luella," because I couldn't pronounce her name in Spanish. She had an accent, and as we talked she said she had been here for 9 years, so I asked where she was from, and she said from the Dominican Republic. So I said, "I have a friend who lives there!" (I hope you don't mind me mentioning you, Rita? Rita's blog is New Human Life). I said what I always say in Spanish, "Tiene un Biblia?" (Do you have a Bible?) She pointed to her purse. Then before I left, I mentioned, "La salvacion es por la gracia de Dios... no por obras." And I explained that in english, that it is the gift of God by grace that we are saved, and not by our works.
I left feeling joyful, because God answered my prayers. I also saw Charles, my homeless friend, and Smitty, who always asks me for things now at McDonalds. I don't have the love apart from God's grace working it in me through Christ, but God called me to evangelism, and I am so thankful that He raised up Matt as my fellow worker in the field. Usually I don't like to go alone. I share all this to encourage you all in your prayers and love toward the perishing. I order a lot of good resources to give to people from these places:
www.mountzion.org (Tracts and booklets - "The Poor Huckster" and "Greasy the Robber" are classic stories to give to those interested).
www.wtsbooks.com (inexpensive Bibles and pocket NT's in ESV).
www.ibsdirect.com (gospel of John in English and Spanish, and sometimes other languages).
This is grace abounding from York to Gap, Pennsylvania. Grace to you (Ephesians 6:24).
(Please also listen to these songs: "Why?" and "Love Crucified")