Living, Loving and Serving

by Impact Church

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. Peter 4:8-10

Ahhhh, December! There’s something about feeling the sting of a bitter blast of cold on your cheek and hearing the kettle bells amid the soft strains of Christmas carols as you walk around The Shoppes at Friendly, isn’t it?

No doubt about it, there seems to be a renewed energy among many people at this time of the year. But while holiday cheer abounds in some folks, we acknowledge the all-too-real truth that the Yuletide is not filled with joyful cheer and jolly good humor for everyone.

We believers know the real meaning of the season is not found under a tree, but in the birth of a Savior who eventually would die on a tree. Our steadfast hope in the Resurrected Christ and His indwelling Spirit gives us peace all year ‘round. But maybe we need to be reminded occasionally that we – flesh-and-blood, dust-to-dust humans – are now the tangible Body of the Lord Jesus that the world sees, hears and touches.

What is a hurting, hopeless-without-Christ world seeing in our lives during this season? What are our friends and family members hearing from our conversations? Perhaps most importantly, are our neighbors feeling our touch as we reach out in love and compassion?

Have you noticed how easy it can become during these chilly days when the sun sets early to simply hibernate into our warm, cozy homes after work and repeat that process day after day? Often when we do get out, we’re on a mission and don’t want to be bothered with distractions. We pull up our scarves and pull down our hats as much to protect ourselves from being recognized as to protect ourselves from the cutting wintry wind. If we’re not careful, the coldness of the season can infiltrate and numb our hearts to the needs of humanity all around us.

Read this Fox News statement from four months ago quoting actor David Schwimmer (we know all you closet “Friends” groupies out there love Ross):

“As an actor, the way I was trained, my job was to observe life and to observe other people, and so I used to walk around with my head up, and really engaged and watching people. The effect of celebrity was the absolute opposite. It made me want to hide under a baseball cap, not be seen. And I realized after a while that I was no longer watching people; I was trying to hide.”

Of course, there’s a world of diametrically opposing differences between being a celebrity actor and a Christian – that’s a different topic for another day. But if we substitute a couple of ideas, maybe Schwimmer’s statement has something to teach us. Instead of “to observe life and to observe other people,” could we agree that a believer is called to OFFER life and SERVE other people? And that the only way to do that is to be consciously alert and on the lookout for opportunities to love and to serve?

No more hiding, Church! It’s time to let our light shine! And that doesn’t always mean “preaching” to a lost and dying world. Yes, the redemption of their souls and a reconciled relationship with their Father God is of utmost importance,…but sometimes hurting, grieving, cold, hungry people cannot hear the Message until they see and feel the messengers reaching out to engage them with simple love and kindness. It’s inaccurately attributed to Francis of Assisi often, but somebody has wisely stated: “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.”

We certainly believe the eternal words of sacred Scripture are necessary, but we might never get the chance to preach and teach them to certain members of our community unless we first SHOW them the love and compassion of Jesus.

Hear the challenging words of Peter today and throughout this Christmas season:
– Love each other deeply!
– Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling!
– Serve others!

Our Heavenly Father has given us the best Gift He has in the Person of His Son! Let us indeed be faithful stewards of God’s grace, proactively seeking to love and serve Guilford and Rockingham counties and beyond as Jesus’ hands and feet. To paraphrase another familiar saying, they’ll care to hear what we know when they know that we care.