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Serve vs. Love

       Most people think of service as helping others, or maybe as a type of utility one receives (like cable TV or water). But a few weeks ago I was challenged to think of service as love and love as service.
See, I always thought that service was a scheduled event where I give of my time and talents and then am done. But I call myself a Christian and believe in Jesus, so the truth is that that is not how Jesus lived. I also felt that Jesus' servant hood was contextual, something that should be left in the time and place Jesus lived. But the truth is that we, if we claim to be Christians, are to be servants. And when the Bible tells us this it doesn't specify a time for serving and time to take a break from serving. If serving isn't just a physical act at a specified time then what is it?

It's love.

So, what does that really mean?

Well, it doesn't mean picketing at a funeral, standing outside a clinic with horrific pictures or screaming and claiming others will go to hell for their sins or a myriad of other insensitive things that many 'religious' folk do. For many years this has been something that has just rubbed me the wrong way. Instead it's taking the time to get to know people, like Jesus did.

Here's the truth, we are called to love everyone. Yet again, like with service, there are no exclusions.

There's a story in the book of Matthew that illustrates this so well:

10-11...Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?”
12-13 Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.”
Matthew 9:10-13 MSG

I love this story because it illustrates Jesus' purpose while he was on earth so well. I can't imagine that His desire would be for me to live any other way than this.

Recently, I had the privilege to visit and serve (there's that word again) a church in Las Vegas that helped me see the real meaning of serving (a.k.a. loving) others.  They have taken the time to get to know what makes the people of their city so special. Many of them have moved their lives from cozy, safe jobs to go and love the people of 'Sin City.'  That's their goal, love. It's as simple as that, because once someone knows that you really care about them, then there's an opportunity to tell them who taught you how.

 

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