The whole point of the Gospel of Jesus is to take care of and love others well.
In a culture driven by pursuit of one’s own glory, wealth and fame, the powerful teachings of a humble carpenter who lived so long ago are easy to overlook. Even easier to overlook are those very same people that Jesus called us to love. But what does this look like? How are we to “go, and make disciples of all nations?”
Deeper still, many of us wrestle with “why?” we should give of ourselves, potentially risking health, fortune or even just comfort.
To all my Christian brethren and sisthren(?) out there, the “why” can be most easily answered as such; the God that created the universe told you so.
To the above who are not content with obedience for obedience sake (check yourself before you wreck yourself… boom), or to those reading who don’t believe yet as I do, I offer this:
To give of oneself, of one’s own finances or time, is among the most fun and rewarding experiences in this life.
Simply taking the time out of your day to approach someone who seems down and out, such as a homeless person looking for food, or someone looking forlorn at your favorite coffee shop or library, can yield amazing interactions.
Today, while sitting at the library (with every intention of keeping to myself), a man came and sat right beside me (grumble). We sat in silence for a long while, and eventually he began to doze off. A library staff-member came through and tapped the guy on the shoulder, politely requesting that he stay awake or head out for the evening. During this interaction, I of course gave in to that insatiable desire of man known as curiosity. Turning to view this brief and mild commotion, the sleeping man and I made eye contact, and something in his eyes was crying out for… something. I didn’t know what, but I decided to do something about it.
Through the simple act of asking this man about his book, expressing interest in that which he is interested, something marvelous happened.
We began talking about this book, which naturally and gradually led into his interests in the sciences and politics and the ways in which he is seeking for a meaning in life. After a long and pleasant discussion of these matters, he opened up that he has been struggling in his faith, wrestling with God to find meaning. Part of this, I infer, results from the passing of his son only a year ago, which he began to share in detail with just a few more honest, caring questions. After years of suffering with bipolar disorder and a despicable medical scandal (long, personal story), this man’s son took his life out of shame, pain and lack of hope for a better life.
The man expressed to me that he is only now coming to terms, over a year later, and that he really has no one in his life to talk to about any of this. He expressed gratefulness for my listening ear and open heart, and my willingness to care as such for a complete stranger.
All I had wanted today was to sit quietly in the library and read, but instead God used a willing heart to speak to this man and to demonstrate love and affection that, I think, helped to shift this stranger’s perspective on life, if even only a little bit.
The point of this, friends, is not to tell you of something that I have done or to bring any kind of glory to myself, but rather to reflect on the intimacy and love that God has designed each and every one of us to seek and to foster with one another, regardless of any filial bond or gain for oneself. I gained nothing more from this interaction than a reminder that hearts all around us are breaking under the weight of this life, and that we are called to love above all else.
The point of this, friends, is that the “how” of making disciples is simple and attainable: give of your time and seek to treat everyone you meet as a beautiful reflection of the God who created you.
In a culture and time that continuously spurs you on to take everything you can, keep to yourself and build your own utopia, I encourage you to stop. Look beside you and all around you, find someone that is in need, and stop taking. Give of yourself and your time. I promise, you will not be disappointed.
Much Love & Many Blessings,
Brady J. L. Smith