In college I loved serving at a children’s camp in Iowa as a counselor. One summer, I went with a ministry from inner city Chicago to help them put on a wilderness camp for middle school students from one of the toughest neighborhoods. In spite of having been a counselor for dozens of cabins of students in the past, I was way out of my league. Thankfully, I was paired with counselor who was from Chicago and knew how to lead those guys. As you might imagine, the first night was the hardest. Our last resort for maintaining some semblance of order was to make them run ‘the hill’ outside our cabin. We finally stopped running that hill around 2 in the morning. During the week, it was exciting to see one of the young men respond to the care we showed. But most often our attempts to love them were rejected. It was hard.
In my New Testament reading this morning (Matthew 25:34-40) Christ said how service to those on the fringes of society is actually service to Him. But He didn’t say they’d always like it. What do we do then?
Here’s a few reasons why it stinks when people don’t receive our attempts to love…
- It hurts. When we reach out to someone, we make ourselves vulnerable.
- It feels like a waste of time. What good is this anyways if they don’t want my help?
- It’s embarrassing. When I’m rejected by someone, it feels like they’re above me. And others may be able to see them rejecting me.
In the gospel alone is hope when love is rejected. For those who are God’s children through faith in Christ…
- The hurt becomes fellowship with Christ (Php 3:7-11). All of a sudden we have a shared experience with Christ and know Him and His love for us a little bit better.
- The waste is not a waste in His eyes. Think of the woman pouring out her $30,000 jar of perfume on Christ’s feet (Matt 26:6-13). Worship is never waste.
- The shame has no real weight. Christ took the ultimate shame on the cross so any shame we experience now will fade one day like snow before the sun (Rom 8:1).
So this doesn’t mean that the person is just a project. But since the ultimate context of our love to that person (really to ANY person) is our relationship with Christ, we can even offer the disappointment and hurt to Him. He knows what it’s like to be rejected and hurt by those He’s loving. Although the cross is the clearest example of that, it’s been going on since the Garden.
How could you worship through serving? Perhaps a neighbor, co-worker, or family member needs help. Perhaps there’s someone you would never normally interact with but whom you could care for.
We’re also partnering with a middle school near us – Summerour Middle School – the next couple months in their Success Saturday program. The commitment level is low and the opportunities are great. Most of all, it’s an opportunity to worship Christ by serving others. Here’s the dates:
- Nov 8
- Nov 22
- Dec 6
If you’d like more information, contact Jonathan.