"And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." – Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV)
Here at Engraved on His Palm Ministries, we not only love to talk about God and how to grow in faith; our entire ministry's goal is to show believers, young and old, how to live out their faith in the world. From helping those in need to shopping with a conscious and even loving the environment, there are so many things we can do to show our faith to those around us... and ultimately, the culmination of that faith is LOVE and more specifically, the love of Christ flowing through us and then out to others. So, today, we continue with our two part discussion on how we should show such love in the world - this time, how we can show it in our community.
Community is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as: "a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests."This is a broad definition and one I really like; because, although many of us generally think of community our towns, counties, or even states where we live, this definition really shows us that community can be – and is – the entire world. So, as we go through this discussion today, I want your understanding of community to absolutely be the area that you live, but also the world as a whole. I think you will find that even if your efforts seem small, they can have a huge impact on the international community! Is that what so commonly trips us up and stops us from doing all we can to show Jesus' love? Do we think we are so inconsequential, the world so vast and broken, that we are scared to move? Today, I want to show you that you have the power to show Jesus' love to the world on a grand scale! Let's begin.
Are you always rushing from one item on your to-do list to the next and feel like you never have enough time to stop for anyone else, even if their need is perfectly within your ability to fulfill? If the answer is yes, perhaps you need to go back and read Romans 8. Jesus spent His three years of ministry walking up and down Jerusalem and, many times, He had some place He was going. But what happened when a man with Leprosy approached Him? What about the Roman officer with an ailing young servant who needed healing? How about Peter's mother-in-law? Though Jesus was a busy man, He always made Himself interruptible to anyone who came to Him and this is what we should strive to do too. We can be a couple of minutes late if it means we have shown the love of Jesus to someone else. Be interruptible.
Shopping for goods and clothing and even luxury items like electronics and toys can be really expensive! Christmases can cost thousands and new wardrobes that might only last the year (or with children, even less) can break the bank! So, we look for the best deals, the bargains we can justify buying. I know I have been guilty of this. But, truth be told, this is not always the best thing for the greater community (even if it saves our wallets). I have spoken about this many times and I even have an article on the blog ( https://www.whitneygibbs.org/post/the-importance-of-consumer-responsibility-for-christians ) that speaks about our Christian responsibility to consume consciously and the great impact this can have on the approximately 24.9 million individuals in forced labor situations around the world. We can love like Jesus by working to stop the horrors of modern slavery and this can start by what we consume. We should be researching brands to find which ones have and have not been connected to unethical labor practices; we can buy second-hand items in order to lessen the impact of our consumer choices. These are just a few simple steps we can take that really show that we care for and love our neighbors as ourselves.
Care About the Environment
In Genesis 1:26-30 it says, "Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so." God has given us the incredible gift of this beautiful Earth! Before He made it good, it was dark and empty and covered in deep waters (some people have even called it a dump). God transformed it for us and left us in charge of His good works. Now, the world is growing hotter at a rapid rate, non-renewable, essential resources are being stripped from the Earth and though it might not seem to affect where you live, it is causing famine, wars, fires, and innumerable suffering in many parts of the world... and that is just for humans! Animals are losing their homes, their food supplies, and their lives as well! In order to love like Jesus in this world, we need to care about it and the suffering brought forth by the carelessness of those meant to care FOR it. You might not feel like your changes can matter much, and maybe in the large scheme of things its like a raindrop on the ocean; but that's okay. We do what we can, we decide to love the world that God gave us, appreciate its beauty, keep it clean, plant a garden, place a beehive in our yards, buy less plastic, consume less where we can. Little by little, our efforts become big waves and soon, others will begin to see Jesus' love through you.
When we are called to love, we are called to love EVERYONE! No matter what they look like, what they think, how they treat us, and or their beliefs. This never mattered to Jesus and it should not matter to us! If we are to love like He who literally died for us when we were still sinners, we can love that person down the street with the annoying laugh or the one that has never treated us well. We love these people because Jesus did first, because that is what it is all about, because whether we think so or not, they are learning about Jesus even if we don't quote a word of scripture. AND THIS MATTERS! God's hope was that all should be saved and He needs us as believers to help Him do it. We have a great job and opportunity to go out and be missionaries for Christ as we get our coffees or drop our kids off at school. We have to lean in and just do this one thing: love everyone. That, in itself, is loving like Jesus in this world.