As you go throughout your days, are you pursuing a life of holiness? Are you consciously striving to be the person God created you to be, a person who is consumed by the love of Jesus? This isn’t a new concept, but it has been brought to my mind in fresh ways through recent teachings by Bill Hybels and David Platt. Not only has God placed a unique combination of passions and skills in each of us in order that we might do the work He created us to do, but He has also charged us to conduct ourselves in a manner that is pleasing to Him (Philippians 1:27).
I’ve lived in America for all of my adult life, and I certainly appreciate the freedoms that privilege has afforded me. Like many in this country, I am deeply concerned about the direction we are heading, and I miss the heady times of the past. Yet a disturbing trend I’ve noticed among believers is to elevate this concern to their chief topic of conversation. They put far more energy into political causes than they do into the mission of the Kingdom. I understand the emotion; I spent ten or fifteen years heavily wrapped up in politics as well. This is a dangerous game for Christians, and I believe it is a sinister weapon of the enemy.
It’s easy to become discouraged in our walk with Christ. The mission ahead is daunting and the pressures against us mount every day. There are so many in the world who hunger and thirst, how can we ever reach them all? Every day wars are creating more orphans and widows, and we haven’t yet begun to be able to help the ones we had the day before. We long to live a life that looks like Jesus, but the odds against us seem increasingly overwhelming. So many die without ever knowing the peace and love that can come only from Jesus; our hearts ache and we become paralyzed at the work before us.
Do you understand how much Jesus actually loves you? Almost every follower of Christ would acknowledge that He loves them, but do you fully comprehend the depth of that love? In John 15:9, Jesus says that He loves us just as the Father loves Him. That’s an incredible statement. Consider how much God loves His Son. Can you even fathom the enormity of that love? And yet Jesus says that He loves each of us with that same love, a love that truly goes beyond our ability to understand.
We serve others in order to reflect the love of Christ. We volunteer and sacrifice to love others as Christ loves us. But do we really get what that means? Jesus loves us with the same intensity that He is loved by the Father. Therefore, if we are to truly live a life that looks like His, we must lavish this same love on everyone we meet. No one is too insignificant, and we must never be too busy to stop and seize the divine moment in front of us. God would never pass up an opportunity to show love to His Son, just as Jesus would never overlook the chance to demonstrate His love to us. So too we must always be eager to share the love of Christ with everyone we encounter. This love is all consuming and it must permeate every cell of our bodies.
We’ve probably all gone through periods in our lives when we felt that no one cared and that no one would notice if we simply disappeared. The frenetic pace that our days are subjected to leaves us weary and frazzled by the time we lie down at night. More and more communication is happening via email and Facebook, and personal interaction is quickly becoming an afterthought. All of this leads to a feeling of emptiness, and it becomes easy to feel lost and alone. In times like these we need to quiet our hearts and remember John 15:9. Jesus loves us just as the Father loves Him. There is no greater love. We are not alone and we have a purpose to fulfill.
Jesus told us to look after the orphans and widows (James 1:27), to feed the hungry and care for the sick. He told us to visit those in prison and to take in those with no place to go (Matthew 25:31-46). How can we do those things unless we love people with a passion so consuming that it compels us to do more and more for others? Caring for the needs of another is exhausting if done out of necessity or duty; but it is exhilarating, satisfying and refreshing when done out of love. It’s all about the attitude with which we approach the situation. Are we choosing to love them as Christ loves us, or are we trying to earn our way to Heaven by doing good deeds? God does not only want us to do the things He commands, but to do it with the right attitude in our hearts (Ephesians 6:6-7; Colossians 3:23). When we serve others because the love of Christ in us allows us to do nothing else, then we are moving in harmony with His mission and purpose for our lives.
Take a few minutes today to contemplate the love Christ has for you. Drink in the overflowing richness of that love and allow yourself to bask in the glory of it. Take a mental snapshot of the feeling; this is how you want to love those around you. When you serve them, do it because you are beginning to understand the depth of the love that Jesus has for you. Share that love with another and allow them to feel the warmth of God’s Spirit as it emanates from within you. Never take the love of Christ for granted, but at the same time do not underestimate the enormity of it. Dive in deep; swim in the ocean of His love for you. Walk in light and serve others in the name of the One who loves you beyond your wildest dreams.
Today I would like to focus on the flip side of yesterday’s discussion about hunger (see “Our Daily Bread”) and take a look at thirst. Clean water is something we easily take for granted in well developed countries. We can simply turn the faucet on at any time of the day or night and get a refreshing drink. This is not the case for nearly a billion people on our planet. While it is essential for health and life, access to clean water remains elusive or impossible for far too many people.
There are some rather startling statistics about water. According to TheWaterProject.org, at any given moment, half of the world’s hospital beds are filled with patients suffering from a water-borne illness; one out of every four deaths of children under the age of five are due to water-related disease; women in developing countries must walk several miles to gather water, and return carrying a jug weighing close to fifty pounds. Meanwhile in America, we average consuming thirty gallons of bottled water per person each year (NPR). While 25% of children under the age of five die because of the lack of clean water, we have been unmoved. In America there seems to be more concern about obtaining the purest water with the utmost of convenience rather than for those who have no access to water whatsoever.
Jesus said that all who thirst should come to Him (John 7:37-38). He was using the importance of water as a metaphor for what is required for life. There is no spiritual life without Christ, and there is no physical life without water. Recognizing this need, Jesus commanded His followers to give a drink to those who were thirsty (Matthew 25:31-46). Just as feeding the hungry was put forth as a stipulation to demonstrate our love for Him, so too is providing water for the thirsty. If we love Jesus, we will do what He tells us to do; we will provide clean water for those who thirst.
As followers of Christ, we must do what we can to provide clean drinking water to those in need. Persecution Project’s “100 Wells Campaign” is striving to provide water to the people of Jaac, Sudan. Many of the people in this region have come there due to the genocide in Darfur. The area cannot support the growing population, so more water is needed to sustain life and prevent disease. Living Water International has completed 9,000 water projects in 26 countries and shows no signs of slowing down. These are two charities with which I have had personal experience and recommend without hesitation. Consider making it a priority to financially support those who are in the field delivering water to dry and barren places.
On a local level, you can always distribute bottled water to the poor and homeless in your community. During the summer months, it is easy for those who live outdoors to quickly become dehydrated. Your simple act of kindness in giving them something to drink may lead to the opportunity to share the love of Jesus with them. Who knows what impact you may have on their life by being the hands and feet of Jesus?
Every time you take a drink of water, try to remember those who do not have such a luxury. Pray for them and for the ministries that are actively working to overcome the problem. Consider ways you might be able to help, either financially or through volunteering. Jesus said those who give water to the thirsty are blessed and will be welcomed into His presence. If we turn our back on those in need, we are deliberately rejecting the instructions of Christ. True followers will do what He told us to do. Give someone a drink, in the name of Jesus today. Refresh their spirit and take pleasure in being His hands and feet to the thirsty. The Kingdom of God is revealed one cup of water at a time.