What I find about most Christians is that they love the love. They love the love part of being a Christian – giving charity and helping those they think need their help. They love doing that. They love talking about it and they love planning it. They love the love.
But the labour is another thing altogether. Jesus said we should pray to God to send labourers to help with the harvest, because labourers are what we need. And labouring is where most of those who love the love call in sick.
Labour is hard work. There’s no way around that. It’s tedious, it’s physically demanding, it feels like it goes on forever, and it often seems futile. But you do it because it’s your job description, not because you love it.
You do it because it’s your job description.
In the Gospels, most of Jesus’ followers fell away when it got to the point of labouring. They loved the love, but they didn’t love the labour that went with it. So when things got hard and demanding and seemingly futile, they wandered off to look for another love.
Jesus talks about this in his parable of the seeds. Which seed are you? Do you love only the love, but then quit when the labouring begins? Or do you love until the love part becomes too hard because you have to forgive the unforgivable?
We born-agains have the most rigorous of job descriptions. We’re not only expected to love, we’re also expected to labour. And even more so, we’re expected to love as we labour. As difficult and as tedious and as seemingly unrewarding as it is, we need to love even as we labour. This is our high calling as born-again believers, and this is our job description.
Jesus did it. Jesus loved as he laboured. He never gave up, no matter how tired he was or how hopeless it looked. He didn’t give up when most of his followers fell away, and he didn’t give up when even his closest disciples deserted him. He kept on loving and he kept on labouring. He didn’t change his strategy or his tactics: He kept on loving, and he kept on labouring, right up to his last breath.
Jesus is our model: Paul isn’t our model, the disciples aren’t our models, Ezekiel isn’t our model, Moses isn’t our model – Jesus is our model. If you love only the love part of being a Christian, then you’re like the Pharisees, who love only those who love them. Loving is the easy part. It’s easy to love when those you love love you back.
Loving those who spit in your face while you’re feeding and clothing them is what separates the wheat from the chaff.