Basics: Serve the people God loves

by Kyle
published July 4, 2015


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I have been blessed in my relatively short ministry to have had the opportunity to work with people from almost every imaginable walk of life: disadvantaged youths, millionaire businessmen and everything in between. The thing they all seem to have in common (at least the ones who believe in God) is they want God to do something extraordinary in their lives. They want their families to be miraculously better. They want their health to be miraculously better. They want peace that passes understanding. Some just want their loved ones back.

In some lives, God really does work in huge miraculous ways. In other lives, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of extraordinary spiritual stuff going on at all. I’ve found that the people who enjoy God’s extraordinary blessing have some behaviors in common. Regardless of the wide variety in gender, race, socioeconomic status or other external characteristic, what they share in common is seven behaviors. They do, if you will, the ordinary things of the Christian life: struggling to understand scripture, breathing prayer, worshipping God, serving the ones he loves, giving to the ones he loves, spending time with the ones he loves and sharing the gift of eternal life.

I’ve addressed a few of these already, and more are to come. However, I could not address “serving the ones God loves” from a better setting. Right now, I am a camp counselor at the House of Faith summer camp for fourth- through sixth-graders at Lake Brownwood Christian Retreat.

And I don’t like it.

Some of the boys I’m working with a really hard to reach. They are not very respectful. They don’t even seem to understand the point of respecting adults or each other. The concept of “team” is almost completely foreign. When I told one boy to pay attention because he and the others don’t want to “waste this week,” they asked if I was talking about drugs or guns because I said “waste.” I miss my family.

But I love it.

I’m already seeing minor victories I’m certain will turn into positive changes in the way these boys live. I have the rare opportunity to share God’s word and character with boys over an extended period of time. I see the image of God in each one of them. I see insecurities and flaws that God desperately wants us to overcome. I see gifts and potential that God desperately wants to fan into flame. All of this is wrapped in packages called humans and God loves every one.

This is the difference between “like” and “love.”

The Bible seldom commands us to serve people who are easy to love. It doesn’t command us to breathe, either. Instead, Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). He commands us to serve “the least of these” (Matthew 25:45). He said that he did not “come to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). The whole counsel of scripture is replete with imperatives for serving those we do not like for no other reason than that God loves them.

When you adopt the practice of serving people you don’t like and might not even like you, you will find new kind of character or attitude taking root in your heart. It will begin to look a lot like Jesus’ character and attitude. And this is the whole point: becoming like Jesus.

Did God not act in incredible ways in Jesus’ life? If we want God to do incredible things in our lives, would it not behoove us to imitate the one whose life God did the most incredible things through?

Or think about it this way, Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father might be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). The western attitude toward names is rather weak. Shakespeare famously summed up the western concept of names when he asked, “What’s in a name?” A biblical understanding of names screams, “Everything!” Do you know what Jesus’ name means? It means, “God saves.” Is that not the essential characteristic of who Jesus is? When Jesus said we should ask in his name, he wasn’t telling us the magic word for getting whatever we want. He was telling us he would do those things that we ask for which are consistent with his character, and asked for by people who have adopted his character.

God is sovereign and certainly capable of doing things in the life of any person, but his general mode is to respond in extraordinary ways to those people who live by doing the ordinary things of the Christian life, like serving those whom he loves (as opposed to just those whom we like). If we want God to meet our incredible needs, we should work to meet the ordinary needs of those who he loves.

What do you think?

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