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CHURCH CORNER: Take the opportunity to love like Jesus does
I admit that I am one of those people who have stories. Wherever I go, “the stuff of stories” just happens. And I love hearing other people’s stories because I understand how life works that way. I think that is why I love how Jesus used stories to teach so many profound ideas.
Take a simple story of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, about 17 miles. The man falls victim to robbers, is stripped, beaten and left for dead. At which point, Jesus tells us of two others who were also wandering on this same road, came upon this misfortunate traveler and…well, they chose to do nothing.
Then Jesus identifies a person who is normally considered an outcast of society, a Samaritan, who in fact goes out of his way to take care of this poor traveler. And while Jesus is using this story to demonstrate “who is my neighbor” in context of summing up all of the scriptures to “love your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself,” I can’t help but wonder what effect it had on the traveler.
Imagine the conversation when “Traveler Tom” came home. What kind of stories did he tell about this event? How did it change him? Did he still travel that road? Was he more aware of others’ needs? Did it change his views on Samaritans? Did he realize how close to death he was and now recognize life as a gift?
I guess my question is also relating to today; well, more of a question of “if” this had happened to me or to you. How would I live today if I recognized someone else had gone to great sacrifice to help me? How would you live? Or maybe there is even another question in there – would I have been the one to take time out of my schedule, my agenda, my travel time, to take care of someone in need?
Hmmm…I guess that begs even one more question. Since there are people in need in the community right now and they are hurting, am I willing to take time now and sacrifice a little of what is already tight, to “be their neighbor?” Are you?
I love that Jesus loves as much as he does. I so appreciate that even though I have missed the mark of his perfection (so many times!), he has forgiven me. And I especially love being able to tell others that Jesus gave his very life to cover the cost of their missing the mark of perfection. And it is because of his love for us that inspires me to want to love like he does. But it isn’t really enough to just “tell” people or to invite them to come to hear our worship teams or our messages. James 2:15 tells us, “Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don’t have enough to eat. What good is there in your saying to them ‘God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!’ if you don’t give them the necessities of life?” And James is right.
So what can we do? Now is a great time for clothing/coat drives and for gathering food for local food banks. If your church is already doing something, wonderful! But if not, here is what you can do. You can go through your closets and look for jackets that aren’t being used and take them to local clothing banks or shelters or contact WonGeneration (www.wongeneration.org) and you can contact your friends and family and neighbors and ask them to do the same, to take 15 minutes and look in their closets to see about jackets, sleeping bags, blankets, etc.
And while this one step won’t share Jesus with everyone in the entire region, and it won’t make all suffering go away, and it won’t mean that some won’t be cold tonight, it will go a very long way in the direction of answering the question, do I love like Jesus does?
By Len Bundy