Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Love, Mercy, End of the Spear

I love God and people.

I just finished watching the movie, “End of the Spear.” (http://endofthespear.com) What a story of missionary adventure and calling, tragedy, intergenerational connections, hope, love, mercy and victory in Jesus Christ. I’ll leave details fuzzy, to preserve viewing for those who want to see the film.

Views of the jungle, and the portrayal of the missionary home and airstrip took me to the center of a family's memories. The events made me smile, and think. They gave me a pit in my stomach, and I cried.

The problem with the story is, it’s the truth. Based on real events, it well illustrates the risks many missionaries take as they boldly follow God. To those who don’t worship Christ, this must seem foolhardy, or even arrogant. Yet, missionaries go. They go because they choose to place God’s priorities and opinions over other people’s.

God intends for them to serve out of love and concern. And while missionaries want to share God’s Son with others, God leaves the choice to follow Him to each individual.

The missionary families in Ecuador depicted in “End of the Spear” remained true to that. These families loved, reached out and communicated, but they couldn’t and wouldn't force anyone to love Jesus. And their love for God cost them. But rewards and God’s progress came later.

Matthew 9 (NIV)

10While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples.11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”

12On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’a For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

That passage might seem a little confusing in light of the clear cost paid by missionary families depicted in “End of the Spear.” It’s good to remember, sacrifices equal worship. That’s the point. And worship must be sincere.

If I don’t show love and mercy, God would rather see that change, than receive a material offering, especially one that isn’t given out of true love for Him. The missionaries depicted gave sincerely, and showed love and mercy to the very people who brought them great grief.

Looking at the call to mercy Jesus emphasizes in Matthew 9, in “End of the Spear,” I saw how the missionary families served, showing mercy and reserving judgment as they longed to share the liberty Christ offers. I saw mercy also, especially later in the film, as the missionaries cared for tribe members suffering with polio.

Hosea 6:6 calls us to the same sort of worship, for the same God.

6I want you to show love,b
not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know mec
more than I want burnt offerings.

God wants us. He loves us. He wants the people in remote tribes in Ecuador, and He wants those living in physical comfort in the United States. He wants their love, their acceptance of His Son. And He wants those of us who worship Him to share our love, His love.

My journey follows an entirely different path, with different gifts, challenges and work. But I want to show a profound love, too.

“End of the Spear” shows devotion to God, and to people, because of the power of God’s love at work inside His followers. I took the time to watch the movie, and I recommend it. Sharing such a true story as portrayed in “End of the Spear” takes courage, and a willingness to live publicly vulnerable. 

And that’s a love lesson right there.

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