One day Jesus was asked where real life was found.
Specifically, he was asked by a lawyer, “What do I need to do to get eternal life?” The word for eternal could also be translated perpetual. Ongoing life. Life today and beyond.
Jesus told him that everything he needed to know was in the law. “How do you interpret it?” Jesus asked.
The man responded, “Love God with everything you have and love your neighbor as yourself — that’s what the law says about eternal life.”
“Good answer!” Jesus said. “Do that and you’ll have it.”
Had the man been really listening, he may have caught Jesus’ emphasis on doing what the law says. It’s not enough to know it. Putting it to work is what matters.
But the man wasn’t listening. He wanted to appear smart to his friends or to Jesus. Or perhaps he was looking for a loophole — a way around actually doing what the Bible says.
So he asked, “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus answered him by telling a story about a man who was attacked by robbers and left for dead on the side of the road.
Two religious leaders saw the man and quickly looked away, passing by on the other side. Fortunately, a Samaritan man — someone hated by the Jews — saw the man and had compassion. He bandaged his wounds, took him to a local hotel, and paid for his care.
“What do you think?” Jesus asked. “Which of the three men was a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”
“The one who treated him kindly,” the lawyer responded.
Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”
It doesn’t get much clearer than that.
If you want real life, serve people in need. Don’t just talk about it. Do it.
Serve Like Jesus
Jesus was always serving people in need. He modeled this message: life is about loving God and loving others, and the way you love God and others is through serving.
I suspect that many people were surprised by how practical Jesus was a religious leader. He wasn’t like the others in ivory towers. He owned no flowing robes and never demanded the best seats in the house. Instead, He daily took his place with the poor.
This is how he described His mission, quoting Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19, NIV).
Jesus recognized that any message about good news to the poor would be hollow unless one hung out with those who are poor. So that’s how He spent His time.
A few times a year our church holds a day of service to accentuate this call to serve those in need. This year we are partnering with Operation Inasmuch on August 19th to serve in a variety of ways. Some projects are more difficult than others, but there is something for everyone, no matter what skill level or physical capacity you may have. Most service opportunities will be finished by noon.
I urge you to sign up today by visiting this registration page.
We currently have about 75 people signed up, but our goal is 150. By God’s grace we’ll get there. We want you to be a part of this chance to serve like Jesus.
Be Not Afraid
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wisely noted that in the parable of the Good Samaritan, the people who passed by the man in the road were not doing so because they were too busy or lacked empathy. They didn’t help because they were afraid.
They may have been afraid because they would not be able to fulfill their religious duty as priests if they touched the blood of another.
But not tending to someone so clearly in need would surely negate any good deed they did in service to the Temple instead.
Perhaps they were afraid to get involved. They knew that to help the man would mean changing their schedules and taking on some responsibility. Surely there would be someone else to help.
Or maybe they were afraid of getting robbed themselves. It could be a trap, this man appearing to be wounded while others waited to pounce from the shadows. The risk was too high.
We may also have some hidden fears when we turn aside from those in need. We don’t want to get our hands dirty. We might have our reputation tarnished, or we may be afraid of wasting our time.
Still, Jesus’ words are too straightforward to miss. “Go and do the same.” To follow Him, we need to name our fears and ask the Lord to help us overcome them.
You may be thinking that your life will be more enriched by doing something else on August 19th, but Jesus suggests that real life is found in serving people in need. We’re going to find real life together through the Day of Service! I don’t want you to miss that opportunity. So don’t be afraid and register today.
Do What You Can, While You Can
We only have so much time on this earth. Let’s not waste it on selfish pursuits that don’t last. Let’s not wait until heaven to experience eternal life.
All around us, people are hurting. Children and young mothers are in need. Our homeless neighbors need friends who will stop and listen to their cares. The skies are dark for many people — maybe even for you. But don’t let that stop you from serving.
James Forbes, Pastor Emeritus of the Riverside Church in New York City, once said that he often sings this song in the shower:
I’m going to take heart and get moving
though the clouds hang heavy and grey.
If I wait for blue sky perfection,
I’ll be waiting till Judgment Day.
Why let myself be held hostage,
trapped and blocked by who knows what?
Will standing still in sinking sand reverse my fate?
I’m going to break out and risk living.
Though the reasons to wait still abound,
I will do what I can in the climate of now
until better days roll around.
I look forward to serving with you on August 19th. What’s more, I look forward to meeting Jesus as we serve together, for He said, “As you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40, ESV).
With much love,
Dr. Brent McDougal