Planning for Serve the Valley 2019 has begun. The team had its first meeting this past Tuesday. The participation level is increasing this year. It is so good to have all three churches working together for the good of the community.
With our GO-LOVE-SERVE vision and theme, it causes us to focus on the true meaning of being a Christian, a Jesus follower. The greatest of the three is LOVE. When Jesus delivered his new commandment, it was love one another as I have loved you. The challenging part of that statement or command is “as I have loved you.” How does Jesus love us? Well, for one thing, he loves before we love him. Secondly, even after we know him, he loves us regardless of our faults, foibles, and failures. His love is not performance based. It has never been how good we are. He has not prerequisites of attaining a certain level of cleanness, holiness, or dress style before we become acceptable. And then after becoming acceptable, we have to grow or comply to a certain creed before we get the love. Nope. Never.
He loves where we are and even before we are aware he cares. How do you do that? “Love as I have loved you.” This has to mean that love is not defined they way we define it. It has to be way beyond what we consider love to be. Jesus introduced a new kind of love that is reflected in the Greek as AGAPE. This word speaks of the “God love” that reaches us before we can respond and return any affection. It is the kind of love that parents have for wayward children. They do not deserve it or have not earned it. There has been no giving, just taking. Yet, God extends that love, “Just as I have loved you.”
I have become a little annoyed using the word “outreach.” Sorry, it sounds to me like a club that is having a program or a recruiting drive. That may sound cranky, but I really would not want to be considered anyone’s outreach program. I would like someone to care about me. I would like someone to help me. I would like someone to love me. But I do not want to be a number, a special project, an object that makes people feel like they fulfilled a religious duty.
“Just as I have loved you,” should become our reason. Someone loved us. Someone cared. So, when we venture forward, we should be wanting to help, wanting to serve, wanting to go. The goal is the interactions. The goal is to provide or create opportunities for genuine caring.
I have noticed how sour some folks look as I walk through life in the common things we do. But I have been forcing myself to speak to more people and I am wonderfully surprised by how many people perk up when someone takes an interest in them. A casual comment can turn into a conversation of some time and importance. Other times, it is just a comment acknowledged and a returned smile. Who knows what can happen when you love “as he loved us.”
- Pastor Bill