Love or infatuation?
“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” NIV
I love reading and rereading the life story of Jonathan Goforth (1859-1936), the Canadian missionary to China. When he encountered Christ, he also caught Christ’ passion for the lost. From that point onwards, he was completely committed to preaching the Gospel and winning souls to Christ. He soon persuaded his mission board to send him to China, and he devoted the next 40 something years of his life to ministry in China. Five of his eleven children died of various illnesses and were buried in China. Several times he lost all his possessions through fire or because he had to flee from war or civil unrest. He and his family were ill-treated and wounded many times. He sacrificed so much, suffered so much, but still he kept serving the Lord. At the age of 75 he became totally blind and had to return to Canada but he continued to preach and witness for Christ till the day he died. And all the while, he enjoyed every minute of his experience of God and would not trade it away for all the riches of the world.
What is it with men like Jonathan Goforth that keeps them going? We all read those words in Mark 16:15 but why is it that it means so much more to the Goforths of the Kingdom than to us? What is it that they see in those words that we do not see? How is it that it becomes an all-consuming command, an inseparable part of their expression of love for Jesus, while the rest of us see it only as something we would like to do but never seem to find the time or the opportunity to do? Why is it that they consider Christ’s call to preach the Gospel so important that they are willing to give up everything that they may serve God, while most of us struggle to even find the time to get alone with God each day?
When I studied the lives of men like Jonathan Goforth, I discovered something unique about them: when they met Jesus they fell so in love with Him that it changed them forever. When they came to know Him, they became passionate about Him; His cause became their cause, His burden for souls became their burden too. They were first and foremost people who were passionately in love with Jesus and were so aware of His presence that they were blind to everything else. And everything they did after that flowed from this abiding love they had for their Saviour.
I cannot help feeling that we are all missing out on something really awesome about Christ. Can it be that we are still too distant from Him, still too unaware of His presence that we are not moved by Him? Can it be that we are only infatuated with Jesus rather than passionately in love with Him? Love goes all the way; infatuation likes what it sees and hears but is not prepared to make the commitment.
I don’t know about you, but I feel a sudden desperation in my soul to know Christ the way that men like Jonathan Goforth knew Him. I see now that I have only been scratching the surface of so great salvation, so great love, so great an offer of intimacy.
“I press on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me,” Paul said (Philippians 3:12). Surely that must be our heart cry too….