Praising God for lives of service
Sociologists might call it altruism — this selfless concern and care for others’ well-being displayed so powerfully in times of dire need.
We call it showing Christ.
Politicians may tout putting service before self, or getting involved and making a difference for community and country.
Christians know, however, that serving others isn’t a platform issue or a partisan notion. Rather, it’s a call to lifelong sacrifice that supersedes nationality and unites us as we follow Jesus’ blueprint of loving our neighbors as ourselves.
As storms with names such as Gustav and Ike capture headlines and inspire worry, the generosity and energy of so many believers lift up and refocus us.
So, too, do Christians’ take-charge attitudes and organizational efforts galvanize their communities.
Praise God for the outpouring of Christian compassion in Montgomery, Ala., where the Vaughn Park church ushered in 92 evacuees from neighboring Louisiana before Gustav crashed ashore.
Minister Brad Sullivan issued a plea for bottled water during his Sunday morning sermon and by afternoon had enough to last for days. Local restaurants pitched in, preparing comfort-food favorites such as fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Area residents responded with linens and toiletries to supplement those provided by church members.
Praise God for the Goodman Oaks congregation in Southaven, Miss., which hadn’t yet finished worship on a recent Sunday when those fleeing Gustav poured into their facility. The church’s response was not to tell anyone to wait for a final “amen,” but to put arms around shoulders and embrace their visitors.
As families with small children and pets inside crates settled in, Goodman Oaks members hustled to provide for their needs. And as they bought supplies and gathered donations in Southaven, local residents teamed with them. One member went to Wal-Mart to buy several carts full of blankets. Told about the nature of the purchase, another shopper paid the $400 bill.
Praise God for our fellow Christians’ extraordinary capacity to love and serve. Our brothers and sisters display a seemingly inextinguishable caring and compassion, shocking the world and drawing puzzled responses. In West Monroe, La., pundits and media tried to make sense of how those from the White’s Ferry Road congregation might take in a total of 25 “strangers” who evacuated from New Orleans.
As Beverly Dobbs put it so well of her eight visitors, who first came in contact with the White’s Ferry Road church after Hurricane Katrina three years ago, “They are our family, so you put them in your house.”
Many, many others well outside coastal areas have joined financial forces with church-based disaster relief agencies to provide all manner of assistance for those faced with the physical demands and financial stress of cleaning up after these punishing storms.
Relief ministries associated with Churches of Christ are working in some of the areas hardest hit this hurricane season. The scope of their work is massive, and yet the impact is seen on the most personal levels. Showers. Meals. Flood buckets. Replacement appliances. Contact with those wearing Christ’s name and serving as his hands and feet.
Call it what you will, but praise God. This response to disaster, crisis, heartache and upheaval is making a difference that will extend far beyond an election cycle and infinitely longer than it takes to rebuild homes.
It is eternal.