What was he thinking? The TV morning news reported that a driver, instead of pulling over when he saw the flashing red and blue lights of a police cruiser, sped up and led the officers on a high speed chase until he finally crashed into a tree. What were they thinking? A husband and wife with successful careers quit their jobs and bought 40 acres of empty land. They exchanged a comfortable lifestyle for the hard work and uncertain future of vegetable farming. We look at the words and actions of others, and when they don’t seem to make sense, we wonder, “What are they thinking?”
What was the apostle Paul thinking? His life could have been much easier and safer if he had simply not spoken of Jesus. He writes that among many other hardships, “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked…I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked” (2 Cor. 11:24ff.). Why endure all that when you don’t have to?
It’s not a mystery. Paul explains, “I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16). Paul was “compelled.” There was no alternative for him. Yet he wasn’t compelled by guilt or threats of punishment. He says, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Cor. 5:14-15). God’s overwhelming, unconditional love shown in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross worked such a compelling faith in Paul’s heart that he couldn’t help but tell of Jesus to everyone, regardless of the consequences.
What are you thinking? What moves you to say and do what you do? Why pray for opportunities to warn a friend of the consequences of their sinful lifestyle? Why put yourself out there and risk the disapproval of co-workers by reading your Bible over lunch break? Why do you invite a neighbor to join you in God’s house Sunday morning? Why give offerings to support the preaching of the gospel to complete strangers in remote parts of the world we will never visit?
May the answer always be that Christ’s love compels us too. “We love because he first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19). Despite all our failings and lack of love, Jesus loves us. He suffered our punishment, died in our place, made peace between us and God, still intercedes for us today, and will one day take us home to Himself. May that saving truth fill our hearts and minds today and move us to live in love for Him. And when others ask, “What are you thinking?” gladly tell them!
Yours in Christ,
Our Mission Festival tomorrow begins at 9:30 a.m. with a mission presentation by Pastor Michael Gurath, pastor of Holy Cross, Phoenix, AZ and part-time missionary to Kenya. The service follows at 10:45 a.m. with a potluck meal afterwards. No Sunday school or Bible class.