"That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served - (Matthew 20:28)
Last night David Brooks and Tavis Smiley shared the stage at Clowes Hall, Butler University, for the inaugural Faith and Action event. The purpose of this program is to motivate and guide people to combat poverty. Brooks talked about the problems of social isolation and behavioral challenges behind much of our present ills. Smiley talked about the significance of practicing love and compassion and the real difficulty of being a just and equal society. They even delved into the controversial topic of kneeling during the national anthem.
But one line from the night stuck out to me. Smiley talked about the importance of leadership and how everyone is called to lead. He said, "You can't lead people without loving people, and you can't save people without serving people." Of course, he was unashamed about acknowledging his Christian faith for this ideal, but he also used it as a challenge particularly to the Christian community to live up to our beliefs and values. Another line, related to this thought was used by Brooks. I can't remember who he quoted, but someone was talking with him one time about all the programs created to combat poverty and help people get ahead. This person said to him, "Programs don't change people, relationships do."
I just think of the truths of these statements and the way I see them lived out before my eyes at St. Luke's. Our Getting Ahead program matches people looking to get out of poverty with people in our church. Through these relationships folks find encouragement, counsel, and support to get to a new place of freedom and hope. I watch our volunteers every Wednesday evening share in the English as a New Language classes. (I have to be careful here lest it sound like good church people helping needy people outside the church. These volunteers would point out that they are the ones receiving the blessing. It is simply people helping each other and they are in the church!)
Wednesday nights this fall are honestly some of the most beautiful expressions of church I think I have ever experienced-so many different people coming together for a variety of reasons simply to love and serve. If you want a boost to your spiritual adrenaline; if you've wondered just what our church is up to; if you want to feel good about St. Luke's, take a stroll through the Great Hall some Wednesday between 5:30 and 6:30.
The world gets changed, lives get changed, when we simply love and serve people. This is how we make an impact. You may have already seen this on the internet. It's a story that has gone viral. It's about a high school teacher who has cancer. If this person ever wondered if he was making a difference in teenagers' lives, here was his answer. Take a look here.
How different would our world be if every Christian every day asked, "Lord Jesus, who do you want to love and serve through me today?"