As far as I can tell, the summer months provide the easiest opportunities to love our neighbours. People are outside more often, and participating in the life of the community. If you’re willing to connect, the avenues are there.
When we look at Jesus’ words to his disciples (and that means us), it is clear that connecting is what we need to be about. It is part of his great mission for our summer. In Mark 8:34-35 Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” If we really want to find the full depth of life in Christ, we must serve others for the sake of the gospel. We won’t find significance in status, sex, or success, but in service.
God is building a family and he calls on us to invite others to join the family. Christ is coming back, but it won’t be until all the family members are included. In John 17:18 Jesus says, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” This is our family mission to live like Jesus lived and impact our world for the Kingdom of God.
At the heart of this mission of service is love – love for God and love for others. In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus is engaged in a discussion with a teacher of the law. In that discussion the teacher answers the question about the greatest commandment. “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ ” Wanting to get himself off the hook as to whom he must love, he asks, “And who is my neighbour?”
This is when Jesus tells a well-known story about the “Good Samaritan.” (We even have “Good Samaritan Laws” to protect those who do good deeds.) At the end of the story about two men who choose not to help, and one who acts in compassion, Jesus asks, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
I am especially struck by the way the three persons in the story are characterized by Martin Luther King, Jr. “The first question which the Priest and the Levite asked was, ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But, the good Samaritan reversed the question, ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’ “
Love others is not an option for followers of Christ, and it is definitely not a spectator sport. Everyone is included. And, it means connect with others in caring and practical, and often sacrificial ways whenever opportunities arise.
In addition to everyday opportunities which will arise, this summer there will be many events in Sackville connected to the 250th Anniversary’ celebrations. First of all, participate. Then, look for ways to intersect with people’s lives in non-threatening ways. Have some hand towelettes to give out at a BBQ. Give a mini bottle of sunscreen at an outdoor event. Have a cooler bag with “Freezies” to hand out on a hot day. Help with Vacation Bible School. Show up and help out at the Habitat house. Make connections.
Finally, if anyone asks why you’re doing this, be ready with a response that says something about the fact that you want to show love to our community – with no strings attached. God will open doors from there.
If I knew of a more important thing to do with your life, I wouldn’t waste your time with this. I make no apology for saying that being a part of God’s plan will be the most significant thing you do with your life. God wants a bigger family, and you’re the one to invite someone to be adopted.
What am I doing this summer? Sharing Jesus with someone!