Sunday, September 25, 2016

How we are Called to Serve Others instead of Ourselves

1 Timothy 6:10-12 (GNT):  A Call to Service
For the love of money is a source of all kinds of evil. Some have been so eager to have it that they have wandered away from the faith and have broken their hearts with many sorrows. But you, man of God, avoid all these things. Strive for righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Run your best in the race of faith, and win eternal life for yourself; for it was to this life that God called you when you firmly professed your faith before many witnesses.

Paul’s advice to Timothy is universal to Christians today. Imitating Christ in this world is something we can do by practicing genuine “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness” in our everyday living, for God certainly knows our hurt, limping world needs it. The world, for instance, and its allure of busyness and money-centered, faux happiness poses a distraction to our calling as servants of Jesus Christ. But if we look around us, we can see God in action, inspiring us to serve.

The other day during my study hall, I observed a teacher who was on break enter my room to spend time tutoring a struggling student. Although that teacher had copies to make, emails to write, assignments to grade, and a breath to take before their next class, they chose to serve the other instead of themselves. This may not seem like much on the surface (helping students comes with the job description), but as a teacher, I know the value of every short minute off I get during the day and the stinging temptation to stay far away from students during that time. There are many moments when I, too, am presented with opportunities to serve. Sometimes I take them; sometimes I avoid them. It’s human to fall into selfishness, for we are flawed. But when reflecting on this teacher’s service, I am inspired to love my neighbor more in the small moments and opportunities of my day.

Paul reminds Timothy (and us) to run, strive, win, and serve with the grace and love that God puts in our hearts. I pray that this week each of us be the inspiring example for someone else to see, igniting in them the faith, hope, and charity to serve and love others.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Why our Neighbor Includes our Enemies, too

Luke 6:35-36 (NRSV): Loving the Other
But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

In his sermon on the plain, Jesus extends the traditional teaching of Leviticus 19:18 to go beyond loving just “[our] people” as our neighbor to loving all people, even our enemies.

Throughout our country there is a xenophobic attitude toward the other -- immigrants, refugees, the poor, people struggling with identity, and people of other faiths. Christ calls us to love everyone, especially those we are tempted to (or feel justified to) hate, giving to them without expecting a return. And on top of this, we are to pray for them while exercising mercy and kindness: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (36) . These are demanding words, words that call us to renewal and prayer. No one ever said discipleship is easy.

I pray that as we encounter our neighbor this week, we look on all people equally, with mercy, kindness, self-giving, prayer, and hope.

Have a blessed week.