In a perfect world, we would serve and expect nothing in return, but let’s be honest, most of the time we expect at least gratitude. The hard part about this is that Jesus modeled the exact opposite! Jesus was motivated by the purest love and served expecting nothing back. But how do we do as Jesus did? I mean, that’s the goal right? To do what Jesus did?
Perhaps no other command from the Lord is as difficult as serving others from a pure love, expecting nothing in return. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35, ESV). A NEW command! This would have excited his listeners! What Jesus is saying is that the greatest identifier of us being His followers is how we serve others. We must understand that this was revolutionary for Jesus’ listeners. And it’s not so different for us today, is it? We often think we must rush in and fix other people’s problems. Give more, talk more, do more! Yet, Jesus says to love more!We often think we must rush in and fix other people’s problems. Give more, talk more, do more! Yet, Jesus says to love more! -Paul Hunter @nweastend Click To Tweet
The early church understood this: “…they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:42-45, ESV). Now by no means did the early church love one another perfectly. But they strove to love one another well and ensure that everyone’s needs were met. What a beautiful picture of the very love of Christ! A fellow pastor once said of this concept, “They were born into a new family and they understood the principle that family takes care of family.”
The model of the early church also shows us we are to love the larger community in which we find ourselves. I firmly believe our lives are NOT a collection of random circumstances. Rather, the Lord graciously places us in our jobs, neighborhoods and communities to make an impact for His Kingdom. The reality is that a true Christ-follower must get outside the “walls” of the church building and serve their community and world. This is an imperative.
Notice Jesus’ words in the Book of Matthew: “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16, ESV).
This illustration of being salt and light is interesting. Light makes plenty of sense. But this whole salt thing is strange! Salt is a preserver and a flavor enhancer. When we love and serve those around us, we are guaranteed to influence and enhance the world around us. We notice this very phenomenon happening in our refugee communities right here in Pittsburgh. Many of these wonderful people have fled horrific circumstances and are broken and hardened by the world. But when Christ-followers love and care for them, they are driven to ask, “Why do you do this? In whose name do you come?”
So, let us go and be salt and light in a dark and flavorless world!
Let us not serve hoping to get something out of it, even if for a holy reason. Christ will draw whom He draws. Our job is to simply go and love with no strings attached!
Paul Hunter, North Way Christian Community, East End Campus Pastor
Wondering how you can get started with loving others like Christ?
The Imagine Conference is the event for you! When we live in a world that feels overwhelmed with injustice and tragedy, it’s hard to know where to start. But the Imagine Conference is a great first step. Join us to hear from dynamic speakers, local community leaders, and other Christians who are passionate about loving their community with no strings attached! And you can connect with local and national organizations that can help you get plugged in!
If you can’t join us for both days, don’t miss out on Friday’s session with a powerful message from Carlos Rodriguez.
Register here and take your first step to learn more about how you can love and serve others in your community. Walk-ins welcome, as well!