Devotional: Intentional in our Pursuit
As we have spent the last few weeks following Pastor Barry’s sermon series on the visions and values of Harvest, Josh and I found ourselves discussing the topic of intentionality and the need for intentionality in regard to staying connected beyond surface level conversations - the need for us to pursue one another. That word “pursue” was on my mind a lot during Pastor Barry’s sermon on Sunday and I found myself convicted of the ways that I have fallen short in pursuing others for Christ. As I have spent time in reflection, I believe pursuing others is something that I have always struggled with.
A few days ago, I sent a message to a friend asking if she wanted to spend some time together in the coming week. I didn’t get a response. After a day or so, I began to wonder if I should reach out to her again, but I started to wonder if I had done something to offend her and thought perhaps she was upset with me. Or maybe she was sick of me bothering her and wanted me to leave her alone. Maybe some of you can relate to these thoughts. When I did eventually hear back from my friend, she told me that she had seen my message and in the busyness of life, had forgotten to respond right away and then felt like too much time had passed to reach out – she thought I would be upset with her. It was a total misunderstanding, but it begs a bigger question – when I didn’t hear from her, why did I immediately assume that she wasn’t interested in me anymore? Why was I so unwilling to pursue my friend, whom I love. If the situation had been reversed and she had reached out to me multiple times, I would have been thankful for the reminder to respond but also for the intentionality of my friend making her desire to spend time with me clear. God has blessed me with a few precious people who have fearlessly pursued me and it fills my heart with thankfulness and joy when they make their desire for me known. I believe that people, in general, love being pursued. We love when our spouse intentionally pursues us and our interests. I love when Josh comes to me and asks if I will spend time with him or when he makes an effort to spend time with me. I love when I hear from my friend, and she says that she wants to connect because we haven’t talked in a while, and she misses me. We love being pursued, so why is it so difficult for us to do the pursuing?
In his sermon on Sunday, Pastor Barry spent some time discussing the motivation behind Paul’s desire to share the gospel with others. In 1 Corinthians chapter 9 verse 19, Paul writes, “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.” (ESV) Pastor Barry went on to explain that “the apostle Paul becomes all things to all men, not for his own sake, not to seek people’s approval, but for the sake of the gospel and the glory of God. It means that he is intentional. The intentionality of everything that he does is in order that he might win them.” Paul’s desire in his pursuit of others was not for them to like him, nor was his concern for himself and his own pride; his desire was to further the gospel and he was able to do this because his identity rested firmly in Christ. Paul loved Jesus and he knew that he was wholly loved by his heavenly Father. He trusted that his salvation was in Christ and he knew that no rejection or disapproval from a person would change that.
You see, when our love for Jesus is greater than our love for ourselves, it frees us to love others without hesitation because there is no risk of losing our self-worth as it is no longer defined by ourselves or the approval of others. When we know that we are fully loved and fully wanted by the one who determines our worth, we can pursue others without fear of rejection because there is no rejection of man that will keep us from the love of Christ. Paul understood this and he fearlessly pursued others, knowing that God had pursued him and that his identity rested firmly in the saving work of Christ on the cross. Furthermore, when our love of Jesus is the reason for our pursuit, we can find rest in His sovereignty, knowing that it is His spirit working through us to intentionally love others and win them for Christ. Through pursuing others, we enable the Lord to use us to pursue His people, and what a blessing this is!
Dear friends, I know that this call to intentionally pursue others can be challenging. I have and continue to struggle against the fear of rejection and doubts that my efforts are wanted by others. But when I remember that I am not pursuing others for myself, I am freed from these fears and doubts. When we respond in faith by pursuing others, not only are they blessed in the same way that we are when someone pursues us, but we are blessed by how the Lord uses us to show His pursuit of our fellow brothers and sisters. Let us join together in following the example set by Jesus that Paul reminds us of in 1 Corinthians, to fearlessly and intentionally pursue others for Christ while resting in His grace and love for us.
Photo Credit: Darren DeLoach