Around the holidays I sense from many churches and Christian ministries an extra push to get people more involved in serving outside the local church. By and large I view this is a great thing. Just as God came to us in the flesh, he uses us to be in the flesh with others as a conduit of his presence.
But I always have this question in the back of my head…
Do we really care?
Especially in the millennial generation, activism, justice ministries, and serving others is now a “popular” or “cool” thing to do. The reasons for why people serve is as wide as the sea, and many do it for reasons beyond their relationship with God. When we serve for reasons other than an outpouring of love from God, I think we miss the point of serving.
This is where many people will say that Christians just serve out of selfish reasons, or that Christians serve in order to make themselves feel better about their relationship with God.
In a class I’m taking, we’ve adopted this question when considering serving and loving people who do not know Jesus:
Would we still love the person if they never came to saving faith in Jesus?
If the answer is no (and let’s be honest, it probably is for many of us), then we can be sure we have wrong motives that come from somewhere other than simply loving a person. If the answer is yes, then God might actually be able to use us to love. Too often our desire to “love” someone is really just a masked way of presenting the Gospel until we move onto the person. I don’t really think this is what God has in mind when he tells us to love others.
Loving others out of the overwhelming love of a relationship with our God allows us to love people with no strings attached. It allows us to truly love, not love until we see an opening to rope them into coming to our church.
When considering all of the options available to serve and love others at your church or in your area leading up to Christmas and beyond, try asking yourself, do you really care?