God Running is a place for anyone who wants to love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.
In our last post from the book of Acts we saw the difference in how Paul was received by a group in Thessalonica, and how he was received by another group in Berea. And we looked at how Jesus described two groups in John chapter 8, a group who’s father was the devil, and a group who’s Father is God. If you’re interested, you can read more here: Who’s Your Father? Acts 17:1-15.
In today’s post we’ll learn something important that I noticed about Paul.
Now those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they left. Now while Paul was waiting for them in Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he observed that the city was full of idols. So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be present.Acts 17:15-17
The Trouble with Muggles
Kathy and I have a dog named Muggles. We took her in when she was just a puppy not long after COVID started. And we did what a lot of dog owners did during COVID. We isolated ourselves and we isolated Muggles too. But the thing is, puppies have a window for socialization with humans and other dogs. That window is roughly between four and sixteen weeks. So Muggles missed her window.
Without that socialization, we’ve found that Muggles doesn’t function very well. She’s great around the family but as soon as she’s out among strangers she becomes overly excited and obnoxious.
I responded to her behavior by generally avoiding strangers and other dogs, because, well, it was just easier. Who wants to put up with an obnoxious dog?
But for the last few weeks I decided to try something new. Instead of avoiding people and other dogs, Muggles and I have been doing the exact opposite. We’ve been on the lookout for strangers and other dogs. If we see a stranger or dog, we make a beeline for that person or that pup. We’ve been spending a lot more time at the dog park and regular parks too.
It’s only been a few weeks but already we’ve seen big changes in Muggles. A few days ago she was calmly and appropriately friendly with our neighbor and his dog Toby. She didn’t bark. She didn’t lunge. She was perfectly cordial and good and polite. She’s having more and more experiences like the one with Toby and fewer and fewer bad encounters.
Paul’s Affinity for People
The reason I share this story about Muggles is because of something I noticed about Paul. In our last post we saw that people showed up in Berea to stir up crowds against Paul. So some of the brothers escorted Paul out of Berea and took him as far as Athens. And there he is, sort of stuck in Athens. He’s just waiting for Silas and Timothy to show up.
And what does Paul do?
Does he tour the city and see the sights? Does he go to the beach? Does he surf the internet? Does he play video games? Does he watch movies on Netflix or YouTube videos?
These are all things I might have done but Paul didn’t.
Paul went to the synagogue and to the marketplace.
Paul made a beeline for the people.
That shouldn’t surprise us because when we look at all of Jesus’ teachings and commands, they’re all impossible to follow if we isolate ourselves. I think we as Jesus followers, follow Jesus much better when we’re intentional about connecting with people.
Jesus said his disciples would be known for their love.
It’s impossible to love others if you don’t engage with people.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.Jesus Christ, John 13:35
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Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)
Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.
Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:
- Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
- How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
- The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
- How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
- How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
- How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
- How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
- How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
- How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.
With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.
A life of loving like Jesus.