The following is a part of our weekly devotional series, which is a companion to the 2013 Foursquare Life Journal. This week’s Bible reading comes from Ps. 81, 110 and 145; Lam. 1-5; Ezek. 33-39; Dan. 1-4; Obadiah; and Rev. 14-20.
In Matt. 25:31-45, Jesus spoke of those who will enter the kingdom of God. He identified them, saying, ” For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me” (vv. 35-36, NLT).
The people replied, asking when they had done these things. Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” (v. 40). Further, in vs. 45, He said, “When you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.”
This is a deep passage to grasp on how we are to be living. One beautiful idea here is that those who were truly serving Jesus were surprised to hear this, because they were not living life out of duty, religion or obligation. The fruit of the Spirit was already overflowing in their lives. In the midst of everyday living, they found they were already serving Christ.
Mother Teresa spoke of this passage when she said we must see people—namely the poor, Jesus’ “least of these”—as “Christ in His distressing disguise.” We must follow Jesus so purely that we would have His eyes to see people in their distress, whether the person in question is a co-worker, a fellow believer, an outcast or even someone who has hurt us. How we serve people is how we serve Jesus.
To engage our communities with the gospel, we must start here: We must care for each person as if he or she has a story that is dying to be told and shared. Daily we must allow our hearts to be sensitized by the Holy Spirit—for it is too easy to become indifferent, busy, to ignore, to become caught in career rather than our calling. We must see all people as Jesus in “His distressing disguise,” remembering we now live as Christ in this world.
The most powerful things we do come from living honorable lives, marked by peace in our everyday choices (see 2 Pet. 3:14). A smile, a genuine question, good conversation: These are the simple and humble ways we can revolutionize our communities.
So many times we read of the individuals who encountered Jesus. The result was that His thoughtful interaction and their resulting faith brought entire communities seeking Jesus. The movement started with individuals who had the faith to believe and stirred others to believe through the same kind of interactions. It’s not about us—it’s all about reconciling people to God and seeing them step into their promise and purpose.
Mother Teresa compared starving for food to starving for lack of love, saying more people are starving from the latter, because it is easier for us to give food than love. We as Christians can engage our communities when we are committed to our communities. We have roots that provide stability. The testimony we have is to be like our Teacher, who taught us that it is greater to serve than to be served or seek a place of position (see Matt. 20:26-28; Mark 10:45).
True service takes both love and time. There are moments of accelerated growth and places where we reap where others have labored, but for the most part, it is about tending the garden and remaining faithful. Being a faithful presence in our communities reveals the faithful presence of Jesus Christ.
Location is important to God. We are placed where we are with purpose—and the relationships we have are there to give guidance and direction in our lives. Be encouraged! We are called to persevere and to run with endurance, and God is faithful. As Abraham did, will we choose to have hope, to receive the promises of God for our communities by faith (see Rom. 4:16-25, 2 Pet. 1:3-4)? As in 2 Cor. 1, we must answer a resounding “Yes!” (v. 20).
By: Brita Pinkston, co-pastor of Pasadena Foursquare Church in Pasadena, Calif.
Download the yearlong reading plan (PDF, 80 KB), or sign up for the full, online version of the Life Journal. To purchase a Life Journal for your own use, or to place a bulk order for church-wide use, visit FoursquareJournal.com. Learn more about Foursquare’s 2013 Life Journal project.