“For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son…”
So familiar. Such a beloved verse. But I question, do I love enough to give? Cherishing life broadens from those people and things closest to me. But sometimes, I’m narrow-minded and think only of those things I naturally cherish and love. The world? Too often, it’s an abstract concept to me.
“Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
This gospel I cradle close inside? This gospel which has radically altered my past, present and future? I’m not supposed to keep it, but to share it.
I look around, beyond my closest circle, and this is what I see:
I sit on my porch swing with coffee in hand. Across the street, Amy and Chris sit on their porch with cold drinks. I wave. Amy helped me cast my vote the other day. She knows my political persuasion, and she told the lady working the ballot booth with her that I have four adorable kids. Do they know I love Jesus?
The man with the dog named Sparky comes down the street. Sadly, I don’t know his name, just Sparky’s. He likes to give unsolicited advice. I have learned to smile rather than retort. We all have a story, and sometimes we don’t understand when it doesn’t overlap with another person’s story. He knows where I go to church. He asked the other day. Does he know I love Jesus?
Jack lives next door. He’s everyone’s favorite neighbor. Friendly when you speak to him but he leaves you alone when you don’t. He runs every morning while it’s still dark and picks up trash along the way. My husband helps him move furniture in his house and he shared some extra shingles with us when our roof was bad. We pick up each other’s mail when someone goes on vacation. He’s known us for 16 years. Does he know we love Jesus?
On the other side of us lives Janet. She’s no longer able to work due to disability. She grows beautiful flowers and has frequent visitors and parties. We get along fine although her last dog didn’t care for us much. We worked it out as graciously as possible. When the police stopped last summer to ask us if we’d noticed anything in the area, she watched warily from her front porch. When they left, she said, “I knew it couldn’t have been you guys that did something wrong.” But, does she know what Jesus did with all my wrongs?
It’s library day. We take our heavy bags of books back and unload at the counter. We joke with one of the younger guys about helping with the circulation. Mary remembers my oldest two from preschool story time, and when I go to pay my fine for books due yesterday, she just waves her hand dismissively. The younger teenager shakes her head as she prints off the list of books we’re taking home, “You guys do a lot of reading!” Jim cracks jokes and warns us to avoid low-flying turtles as we leave. Are we leaving them with any of the gospel?
We stop by the grocery store down the street for lunch meat and a prescription. The lady behind the counter comments on how well-behaved the kids are. (The lunch meat counter is at the front of the store, while they are still relatively not bored.) The pharmacist hands us a free bottle of water to go along with our medication purchase. Have I let them know about the free gift they’ve been given by the Savior?
The dental assistant knows we homeschool and loves the same vacation spots we do. Does she know we are on our way to Heaven and she can be, too?
The eye doctor has cared for my eye health since I was 5 and my children’s since they were 4. He knows and assisted me with the battle I’ve fought for my son’s vision. Does he catch my vision of Jesus and how I was blind but now I see?
Our family doctor is Catholic, and he understands my pro-life and nutritional philosophies. But does He know I’m feasting on the Living Bread and about the life I have in Jesus?
My Country and the World
I’ve always ministered in my church in some way or another. It is the thing to do. The thing most people think about when the word “ministry” is used. I love to encourage my brothers and sisters in the Lord, reach out to new people and to teach kids about Jesus. But there are hurting people in my city, my state, my country and in my world. There are lost people. There are sick people. There are deceived people. There are people who feel there is no hope for them.
I give money. I give a little time. But I wonder, do I cherish them enough? God gave His Son. Jesus gave His life. Am I willing to give my life? When it’s uncomfortable. When it breaks my heart. When it feels like pain and loneliness and sweating blood?
I don’t know. I hope so. I’m venturing out slowly, following Jesus’ leading. The mission I embark on must be His. I cherish Him. He cherishes me. I want to work with Him to cherish the people He died for, and then be the living sacrifice which is my reasonable service.
Resources for Loving Our World:
Love, Skip, Jump by Shelene Bryan – This one hit close to home. I enjoy my comfort, but am I willing to go outside my comfort zone?
The Noticer by Andy Andrews – The difference we can make in someone’s life just by noticing them.
Discovering the Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson – We must not forget that motherhood is not an occupation but a ministry.
Brotherhood of Betrayal by Randall Arthur – One of the most compelling books I ever read. How do we treat those in our church? Does the Gospel apply to “failures” in the church?
A.D. 30 and A.D. 33 by Ted Dekker – A novelist’s portrayal of the life and times of Jesus. I learned much about history but more about what it must have been like to be in the bodily Presence of our Lord and to watch His suffering.