I think it’s safe to say we can sense a salesman a mile away. That’s why used car salesmen get such a bad rap. They have an agenda. They want to sell you a car. They want to conquer the customer; to win the sale. After recently shopping for a new car for my wife, we got to experience this first hand for the first time in almost a decade. Too often I have seen Christians with an agenda like a used car salesman. Are you loving people just to love them, or do you have an agenda?
Jesus was notorious for living and loving without an agenda. He had an eternal agenda, but sometimes you would have never known it. The Gospels are riddled with Christ’s encounters with people and no agenda.
One example is His encounter with Zaccheus. Here’s how Luke describes it.
He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”
Zaccheus was a Jew working for the enemy. He was a tax collector for the Romans. Not only did he collect taxes for the Romans, but also he became like all the other tax collectors, and took more than he was supposed to for his own gain. This is why tax collectors were held in such low regard.
Notice Christ’s interaction with him though. He doesn’t preach to him. He doesn’t try to win him as a convert. He doesn’t ensure that Zaccheus understands the doctrines of salvation, regeneration, sanctification, the TULIP acronym, or any myriad of doctrinal dogmas. He simply invites himself to dinner.
Jesus had no agenda.
He loved Zaccheus, whom society hated, purely and whole-heartedly enough to share a meal with him. In Jesus’s time this was one of the most intimate forms of relationship. That’s why it was so “scandalous.” Because of this “no-agenda” kind of love, look what happened.
Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” – Luke 19:1-10
A pure unadulterated encounter with the incarnate living God changed Zaccheus and his household. This is how Watchman Nee describes it in A Living Sacrifice:
The Lord did not preach any doctrine, but simply said, “I must abide at thy house.” That simple word, however, was sufficient. Actually, He had not yet come to Zaccheus’ house; He merely suggested His coming. But this was enough, for where the Lord is, there the love of money departs. When He comes, all of those problems are solved. His desiring to go to Zaccheus’ house was as powerful as if He were already there. Just that simple statement, “I must abide at thy house,” made Zaccheus bankrupt…
Look at Jesus’s interaction with:
- The woman at the well.
- The adulterous woman in the street.
- The woman with the issue of blood.
- The criminal on the cross beside Him.
His agenda was to be the love of God in the flesh. His agenda was to love and serve people so incredibly well that he didn’t have to preach a sermon. Before the saying was ever popularized, Jesus was proving that actions speak louder than words.
His agenda was to have no agenda.
Preaching is necessary (Romans 10:14), but it loses its effectiveness if it is not followed by or even proceeded by a life living it out.
So I ask you, “What’s your agenda?”
Are you loving people in order to change an action or habit in their life, to “conquer them for the Lord,” to get them to think like you? Or, are you loving people with no other agenda except to love them with the love of the Lord, in order that they may experience the Father’s heart?
If you come with an agenda, people will sense it a mile away just like that used car salesman I told you about earlier. Ask the Lord to help you love people purely for the sake of showing them the Father’s heart, and leave the results up to Him.