As I write this I reflect on the week that I have just come off of…a week of serving, a week of love, a week that I honestly did not want to end. I had the honor of being able to join a group from Heaton Christian Church on a Mission Trip to New York City to work with the New York City Relief Bus. I wasn’t sure what to expect heading in, but I knew that God had opened the door for me to be able to experience Him on a different level, and I was definitely not disappointed.
The one thing that I took away from the week more than any other is a couple of things that I experienced that were unexpected. First, the battle cry, “These things we do, that others may live!” These eight words struck a chord in me that has echoed through my mind for days…words of truth that I realized was much more than just words being spoken out of habit. Every encounter that we have here on earth can be a spiritual battle, and this opened my eyes that the things that we do in life need to be done so that others may live.
It may not be that we want them to live in the physical sense all of the time; yes, when it came to the relief bus we were working with folks who had next to nothing. We were giving them food and necessities that many of us take for granted. But on a deeper level was the love with which it was given, a love that included a message…a message that God loves you, no matter what you have done, no matter what your circumstance, no matter where you are in your life; God sees and meets you where you are! A message that says, “I want you to have an abundant life in Christ.” This is something we all need to see and experience in life.
Second, was a statue. A statue of Jesus, seated with nail-scarred hand out reached, sitting under a sign that had Matthew 25:40, “What you did for the least of these you did for me.” It really struck me in a way that I can’t explain, but left me wishing I had even more time to spend talking and sharing with those who I encountered during the night. It was humbling to see the reaction to a simple gesture that we take for granted. Seeing someone cry because they have not felt loved for weeks or months, but just simply sitting down and listening to them and loving on them the way that Christ would opens a door to share the true Gospel message…a message of love, because God is love!
I can’t even begin to explain how NYC has changed me in how I view others…we could all be in that situation, hurting, needing to be loved on. We cannot just walk by someone who is hurting, Jesus didn’t, he met them where they are and shared love with them. Love isn’t always a word you say, it isn’t in the things you can buy, it is a natural thing that happens when you allow yourself to open up to what God is trying to do through you. He is love! He wants us to show Him to others through His love; He wants us to love others the way He loves them – He wants us to meet them where they are.
That doesn’t mean that you have to go to NYC, it might mean that you have a next door neighbor who is hurting and just needs a listening ear. It might be that someone has fallen on hard times and just needs to feel like someone cares…it may be that someone needs to be loved on because they are feeling beaten down and just need to know that there is hope beyond the struggle they are dealing with…maybe they just need to meet Jesus and they will see it in you.
“Dear Friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God because God is love” 1 John 4:7-8 (HCSB)