Learning to Love Others with the Heart of Jesus – John Burke


The Scriptures tell us God is love, and as believers, we should love others. But so often, we limit our love to the people in our immediate circle. We forget to reach out to those who really need a touch from Jesus and love on them in the way He would want us to. On this one-day Focus on the Family broadcast, John Burke encourages you to model Christ’s heart for others rather than the heart of the Pharisees. You’ll learn how unfair perceptions and judgments creep into the way you see and treat people. John reminds you of God’s love for you and others because you are a Masterpiece created by God!



you can walk into this life of love and joy and peace, not by trying to change yourself or change other people, but simply by following him day by day, Welcome to the focus on the family broadcast, helping families thrive. Thanks for joining us. This is focused on the family. I’m john fuller and your host is focused president and author Jim daly, john, I hope people realize the gospel is at the core of everything we try to do here. I mean, our, our basic theme is evangelism, marriage, parenting, advocacy for Children and engage in culture, all with the foundation of helping people understand their relationship to God if they have a relationship or if they don’t, trying to encourage them to seek the Lord and that is our core mission. First, john 478 encourages us in that way, john said, and of course he’s one of jesus’s disciples, but he said, beloved, let us love one another for love is from God and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love. That’s pretty straightforward. How many times does love said in that uh scripture there? I mean, it’s amazing and sometimes I think we in the church, we discount it, you know, and I when I would talk to people about our work here, focus, I would say, you know, the greatest weapon that God has given us is that spiritual weapon in parenthesis of love, right? When a human being feels love, that something happens, it’s disarming and their heart cracks and their heart opens? I’ve seen it with people that I’ve engaged who are not christians and who are hostile toward focus and it’s really amazing to see the work of the Holy spirit in that way. Today, we want to give you that little nudge and equip you to draw people to the love of christ through modeling his heart rather than the heart of, should I say the Pharisees. So it’ll be good, we’ll be covering the Pharisees, I’m pretty sure as we go along here, Jim john burke is here, he’s the pastor and founder of Gateway Church in Austin texas and he’s married to Kathy, they have an adult son and an adult daughter and he’s written a number of books our conversation today is going to send around one of them called Unshakeable, Love how jesus changes the world through him. Perfect people and we’ve got copies of that here at the ministry. Just check the episode notes for details or give us a call 800 the letter A and the word family, john welcome back, thanks for having me back. It’s so good to see you, you know, Gateway Church has a unique model. You’re known as the come as you are community church there in Austin, which is awesome. Come as you are? We say, no perfect people allow no perfect people out? I love that? Why do we sometimes, once we make a commitment to christ, how do we think of ourselves more highly than we should? Why does that happen? Well, I think, I think it’s really easy to just lose sight of what jesus had to do for all of us, Right? And we end up in communities that we talk to each other sometimes, maybe more than we talked to people around us who are in the world. And so we we get kind of an us them attitude. It just happens. That’s so true. You know, one of the things I’ve often said here, focus is that there’s two big billboards in the new testament that strike me, one is salvation through christ and christ alone and don’t become a pharisee. Those are the neon signs flashing. Right. Well, but think about that because I don’t think until until I did the study and wrote this book, I didn’t think I would ever be a pharisee. Right. And I think that’s part of the problem is the deception creeps in slowly. And it’s and it’s very subtle and it happens at times with all of us. It’s not an all or nothing. So on a flight to Scandinavia in the book, you describe the story where you encountered a flight attendant and he had some very specific problems with the church. What happened? Yeah, I was I was I was going to Sweden and it was gonna be a long flight. I went back in the back to fill up my water bottle. And um I mean, Michael the attendant and he said, well we’re not really supposed to do that, but give it to me anyway, and he started to fill it up and we started to chat and I just take an interest, you know, where he’s from, all that. And after a few minutes he asked me that, so what do you do? It’s always a great one when you’re a pastor, right? You know, if you don’t want to talk, it just ends it right there. And I said, I’m a pastor. And he goes, oh my gosh, I would have never in 100 years thought that. And then he starts to tell me about just how he had felt uh judged pushed away kind of rejected um, throughout his life by, by christians. Uh, I don’t know why, but he had become a buddhist but the fascinating thing is he kept asking me questions and and I kept talking to him about how, you know, I was an agnostic, but I had learned that God actually loves all of us and is crazy about all of us. In fact crazy about you. And and people sometimes just don’t, don’t really show what he’s like very well. He wouldn’t let me go to sleep. That’s an irritating. I was like, I got to speak in the morning and I got to sleep, but that’s, you know, that’s the thing is that people are hungry and they’re curious, but at the same time, they haven’t always gotten the heart of jesus for them through us. And that was what led me to write Unshakeable love. It actually came out of a study of a harmony of the gospels, you know, where where they basically where you look at, not only everything Jesus said in Matthew, Mark luke and john, but the timing of it as well. And I studied what were the attitudes that Jesus had towards people? What were his actions? And inadvertently, as I was studying this, I realized there’s a big contrast between that and the attitudes and the actions of the Pharisees of the religious of that day and it started to hit me that sometimes i in my life have actually had more of the attitude and actions of the Pharisees than that of Jesus. When I really looked at what Jesus, how he acted, what he said, what seemed to be in his heart for people. And so that is what really led me to write the book. And of course, um it’s it’s it’s full of stories of people coming to faith through christians being the heart and and the actions of Jesus to others. And I think that’s really, it is, if you think about it when Jesus came into this world everywhere he went, he restored what was lost and broken to God. That’s what he did. It was just like this movement that followed him of people and more and more lost, broken people were restored and they actually became the leaders of his church. So, you know what I ask in the book is are are we seeing that God is using us to restore what’s lost and broken in our neighborhoods, in our workplaces, you know, with, with our families? Yeah, let me ask you john because one of the things, it’s difficult to do that work because it requires time sacrifice, commitment. Um, and sometimes we feel we don’t have a lot of those things because we’re working hard. We’re taking care of our kids or whatever, but we should always be aware of how God wants to use us in our neighborhood and our jobs and have a good attitude about it. Well, and I think it’s actually simpler than we make it. I think the barrier is that we think it’s so difficult when in fact it’s not that difficult. After I wrote the book, I I partnered with the barna group and we actually put together a survey showing the attitudes and the actions of jesus compared to the Pharisees and then serve a christian America fascinating. So what came back is 51% of Christians in America have more of the attitudes and actions of the Pharisees than that of Jesus. Give me three of those adjectives just to help the listener, what would that look like the Pharisees and their actions um, devaluing people based on their sin, yep. Uh uh, not not moving toward relationship with people, but distancing ourselves, maybe just getting busy, just not not seen and thinking about are praying for our neighbors, not serving our neighbors or coworkers when we have an opportunity. Um not eating meals with them, jesus ate meals with the center’s right. That’s what, that’s what the religious complained about when you when you look at that is one of the problems were we lack patience with people because you know, we’re set and we think we have every bit of our houses in order, so we just don’t have patience with people that quite aren’t where we’re at. I mean that may sound too simplistic, but patience has to be a big reason to stay in a conversation with somebody who’s antagonistic or doesn’t believe the way you believe can be draining. Yes, absolutely. And I think the fear of that is what keeps us from the simple things that jesus wants to lead us to do. For me. It really starts with changing my attitude to align it with that of jesus. So I I like to use um an analogy uh when when my wife and I lived in ST Petersburg Russia, we were we were missionaries in Russia uh in 91 92. And my favorite uh painting in the world is Rembrandt’s return of the Prodigal son, You know, it’s that it’s that painting based on luke 15, where it says that the Pharisees complained because jesus was hanging out with all these sinners, right? And he tells them three stories. And of course one is of the Lost Son, The Prodigal Son. And the painting is of the father representing God hugging the sun. You know who was completely wayward who comes back. So that painting in the Hermitage, that’s where the original Rembrandt is. It’s worth millions and millions of dollars today. But let’s say you’re visiting the Hermitage Museum and you’re walking out back in an alley and you see in a dumpster a painting and it’s mud all over it, it’s stained, it’s torn. But you realize I think this is Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son masterpiece. So the question is would you treat it like trash? Would you treat it like mud because it is stained and torn and muddied? Or would you see beneath the mud to realize there is a masterpiece under all that damage because it came from the hand of the master. It’s an original and all of us would have the wisdom to take it to someone who could gently restore it to its original value. So if we can see that in a work of art, why can’t we see that in muddied humans, why can’t we see the masterpiece under the mud? And that actually is the gospel. So if you think about it Ephesians 28 through 10, we have been saved by Grace. It’s a gift of God. It’s not anything we did right? And then it goes on to say because we are God’s masterpiece created in christ, jesus to do the good works he planned for us long ago. You are his masterpiece. We are his masterpiece. We we are his work of art, a unique work of art. Part of what I think holds us back is that maybe some of us don’t see ourselves as his masterpiece. We see ourselves as we’ve we’ve done a good job to stop sending or be good, but that’s actually not the gospel. And so we also think that that’s what we have to somehow get others to do and we’re responsible to make them change. That’s not the gospel either, right. And the distinction there is the difference between the heart and behavior. Normally, good behavior comes from a good heart and that’s a good thing. But it’s got to be centered around the heart. It’s not just behavior because people can do good things and they’re not that that good or that healthy in their in their heart. Exactly, yeah. Let me, let me ask you, um, this kind of puts the pressure on your analogy there. But pastoring the church gateway there in Austin yet. I think a lesbian couple that started coming to the church described what was going on there and what was the outcome? Yeah, because it’s a great example and this is really the question I ask people when you encounter people and you start to listen to their story? What do you focus on? Do you focus on the masterpiece that God says was worth his son dying for for everyone or do you focus on the mud? A friend invited Amy to come to gateway and says come as you are church and she said oh I bet not if you’re gay. And so she decided to come just to test us. And so she she brought her her friend and they would come and the first thing they would say to everybody is you know when they said hi, they were gay and they were just waiting to to get a reaction and they would sit on the front row and they would test me, you know touch each other’s knees and stuff like that just and and they kept trying to do this and when they started to sense from people that they cared less about their gayness than they did about their person who they were, the other girls stopped coming, they were just trying to get at us. Amy stayed and and she kept learning about this God and she said who who I kept hearing, he sees me as his masterpiece. He sees me as his work of art, his unique work of art. So she came to faith now the amazing thing was what I watched God do over the next two years because he started to show her things and and take her on this healing journey as she just trusted him more. But I mean to this day a decade later, uh she loves and follows jesus and she’s a leader in our church. I have seen that happen in thousands of lives. It starts though when one person has the attitude of jesus toward that person many times. Yeah, we’re called to live unconditionally and to express God’s love and today on focus on the family, we’re hearing a little bit about that from pastor john burke and the content of his book, Unshakeable, love how jesus changes the world through imperfect people and we’re making that available to you. Just check the program notes for details or give us a call 800 the letter A and the word family john one of the advantages, it’s really great being a pastor and having that kind of church is you do see a lot of people come in, you do see people testing you. Obviously there was, I think another story of a woman named Tracy who fits this uh, from a different perspective though, what happened with Tracy? Yeah, because I think again, what we have to come to is what is in our heart when we see another person, you know, is it that we focus on whatever externally or the mud or whatever or do we see the masterpiece and, and do we call that out and, and Tracy started coming to our church because her, her daughter um was on our staff. So Tracy is sitting in church and there’s a girl with blue hair, you know, short, kind of butch cut dressed, you know, in a tough blue jean jacket and all this. So anyway, she sees this this woman and immediately is put off and she ribs her husband and says I bet she’s gay, this is distracting, but she said she sat there just thinking about all the horrible perverted things she and her friends probably were doing, who were sitting there and it was just distracting her from even being able to listen to the message or worship. And then at the end of the service, everybody stood up and something caught her attention and shocked her and it was that that um this girl was wearing a skirt, very feminine skirt, which didn’t seem to go the rest of her. And and and so Tracy actually followed her and watched as she hugged people and people would come up to her and hug her and then her daughter comes up and hugs her and they talked for a while and it’s so bothered Tracy that later that afternoon, she she said to holly her daughter, she said what were you doing? And who was that girl? And then holly told her the story, she had grown up in a drug addicted family, the parents were drug addicts, the father had left, but what what Tracy didn’t realize is that over the last year someone had loved her had seen the masterpiece that Jesus said was worth dying for, called it out in her, she felt loved enough to start exploring faith. She started coming to our church, she got into a small group, she had a mentor couple, an older couple that was being like parents to her, pouring into her the positive things that every child needs from a parent, right? And so she was actually the skirt was because she was feeling safe enough now with her femininity to try to explore it again, as jesus led her with all of that background with all of that. And she had gotten clean of alcohol and and drugs and it’s just amazing it is. And john that’s the power of the gospel, what’s the power of jesus? Exactly. And so you look at that, and I guess that going back to which you promised we would this issue of, let me say it this way, kind of holding the world accountable for things that we don’t hold the church accountable to often enough. Right? So we, in the christian church were pretty generous with forgiveness within the church and then we expect the world to behave like the church and they don’t even subscribe to what we believe. So this is kind of a contradiction for us and this idea of leading with the grace of God, the love of God romans, which is what you’re quoting that don’t you know, it’s God’s kindness that leads one to repentance. I’ve often used that, you know, it’s not God’s heavy hammer. It’s the love of God is kindness that leads one to repentance. It’s right there in scripture, romans 24 read it for yourself. But but oftentimes we lean on the other side of this judgmental area where, you know, I know people who have said, I felt like I had to get myself cleaned up before I could present myself to God because that’s what their christian friends implied. They may not have said it, but it was implied like you gotta get your stuff together so that God can then love you and that is not the message. No, but that’s what is in everybody’s heart and that’s what we have to understand. That’s why we have to overcome that fear of condemnation and judgment with grace with, with valuing people. So, uh romans 81, there is now no condemnation for those who are in christ, jesus, who can be in christ jesus anybody right? It’s a simple Yes, I do right. And and so God is not, jesus said, I came into the world not to judge or condemn the world, but that the world through me might be saved. Here’s the problem and paul said in romans chapter seven, you know, the very thing I want to do, I don’t do, I do the very thing, I hate what a wretch I know. Well, that’s right before yet, there is now no condemnation for those who are in christ jesus. So all people know I I sometimes say it this way to to people, Have you ever broken your own moral code? You know, you ever said I’ll never But you did. So think about it. How much more have we broken God’s moral code? Right? So we all know deep down we’re guilty and but the problem is we don’t know the heart of God in our guilt. So we think that I’ve gotta I’ve gotta clean it up. I got to work it out. I’ve got to prove my I’ve got to earn it. Here’s the problem with that. That was never how God intended us to do life. We were created to do life with the source of life. And so we can’t change or fix people. I love this passage in first Corinthians three where it says paul, you know, I planted Apollos watered, but God caused the growth. So neither one who plants nor the one who waters is anything but only God who makes things grow. But we are his co workers. So were his co workers. But we don’t change people, right? We’re we’re working the soil, We’re creating the the the environment, you know, restoring worth and value to that person. We’re seeing the masterpiece in them that jesus saw calling it out because it’s only when they start to walk with him and trust him that they actually changed from the inside out, that’s any of us. Exactly, right. If we’ve just changed ourselves, were Pharisees, right? The right at the end here, the the difficulty we often have is the anxiety or the fear of engaging and actually sharing the message that jesus gave us. You identify three themes for us to remember in that context. So what what are the three things that you think about when you’re talking to nonbelievers? Yeah, I think, you know, when I was I was trained this way, so many christians have been trained this way that we gotta they won’t they won’t desire the good news until they know the bad news. Right? And so the idea is unless I really convinced them that they are sinners and separated from God, they’re not gonna want to know God. The only problem with that is it’s not in the gospel that way. So I studied the timing. So jesus did speak hard words. He spoke truth and hard words. And I have a whole chapter in there on an unshakeable love, on the hammer of truth. So actually during the 1st 2.5 years of his ministry, he only record, he was only recorded saying eight hard words to people. Six were to the Pharisees. So in the first two years he’s going about, he’s healing, he’s serving, he’s teaching God is good. He’s like a father, you give good gifts to your Children. How much moral God give good things to you. God is for you, not against you. That was the message he brought. That’s the first thing. There’s good news for you with God. God is for you. God’s not against you. God is not out there to condemn you. The second thing is that there’s good news about jesus that we all have fallen short of the glory of God. We we’ve all gone our own way. We’ve all send. But what does God say about that? Well, he sent, jesus, his son, his life, death and resurrection paid the price that all of us can be forgiven and set right. He removed every barrier between every person and God except one. Our pride. We can still say, I don’t need God, I don’t need your forgiveness. And yet a willing heart is all all he needs. And then the third message is there, there’s good news for us. You know, the the good news is we don’t have to do a whole lot other than trust God, moment by moment throughout the day. And what starts to grow within us are the very things we desire, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. The fruit of the Spirit. And all we have to do is walk daily with the spirit. And that’s the gospel. So, good news about God. He’s for you, not against you. Good news about jesus. You know, he doesn’t condemn you because of your sin. He paid for it. So you can know you’re right with God. And three good news for you. You can walk into this life of love and joy and peace, not by trying to change yourself or change other people, but simply by following him day by day, john, this is perfect. I mean you have wrapped up the gospel so well, right at the end here and I just hope people will get in touch with us for that person who’s never made a commitment to christ. Here it is. You won’t hear it any plainer than you just heard it. And I want to get this book into your hands and for the christian that may not understand how to live from that perspective of loving your neighbor, which again, two of the commandments that jesus gave to us love the Lord, your God with all your heart, soul and mind and then love your neighbor as yourself. And if you keep these two, you’ve done it. And so I would want to encourage you as a believer in christ to deepen your relationship. So you know how to act accordingly, just as john is talking about with people that may not respond well to the Gospel. And if you can make a gift of any amount monthly or one time, we’ll send it as our way of saying, thank you for participating in ministry with us. If you can’t afford that, that’s okay, we’re gonna trust other people will take care of the cost of that. So we don’t want that to be the impediment. So get ahold of us to get a copy of this book so that you can either start your journey with the Lord or deepen it, Donate as you can when you call us and request that book. Unshakeable. Love how Jesus changes the world through Imperfect people. Our number is 800, the letter a and the word family. And the link is in the show notes on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team here. Thanks for joining us today. For focus on the family. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in price.

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