Its 4:35 in the morning, and I’m awakened by the sound of my 100-pound German Shepherd barking and growling like he is in a fight for his life. The fear of our house getting broken into rushes through my mind, and I immediately jump out of bed, grabbing a flashlight, I run outside. I see the shadow of what appears to be a man in my backyard, and as I rush over there, I discover it is my neighbor who has been awakened by the same commotion.
Samson, my German Shepherd, continues to sound as if he is locked in a mortal struggle, so I run around to the other side of my house ready to help only to discover a stray neighborhood cat has jumped into the backyard. Samson has him trapped in the corner of the fence. I pull all 100 pounds of Samson away from this helpless, black striped, gray and white cat, of maybe 5 pounds, and reach out to pick him up.
As I attempt to check him over, he repays the kindness by attacking me. I put on some leather gloves, reach out again, and grab him. He is so scared; he continues clawing and biting at me though the threat is gone. The possibility of getting attacked is clearly still very real to him because of what has just happened.
I take him to the front of the house to get a better look at him. A couple scratches and a lot of bruised ego, but all in all, he has made it out alive and well.
Since that morning, the cat has fully recovered and is now a part of the family. Mike, as he is now known, has a forever home with us. The funny thing is, before Mike, I hated cats!
Galatians 5:13-14 ESV
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Right now, I imagine you are asking yourself how this story demonstrates the gospel’s call to serve others. Let us walk through it together.
There are times in life when we must react to situations on the fly; we hear or see a need and rush in without hesitation. Scripture tells us to “be ready in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2). We aren’t always afforded time to prepare so we must be ever ready, even when at rest! We must be ready to assess any situation to determine what needs to be done and be willing and able to act accordingly.
Hurt people hurt people, and often times, serving others means putting on our leather gloves, the love of Christ, and being willing to “reach out” or listen to what is causing them hurt. We must listen to them with the intent to understand, not to respond, and must be willing to love them as Jesus loves us. Everyone needs a little help sometimes.
Serving others requires us to meet them where they are and be willing to “bear their burdens” (Galatians 6:2) as we continue to point them to The King. After all, life isn’t a journey anyone is intended to go through alone. By doing life together, “we fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
Every time I walk out my front door, Mike is there, not a scratch on him. All the scratches I received from him that harrowing morning are gone, and only love remains. He has a love for me, and I for him, simply because I was willing to meet him in his darkest moment and take care of him.
This is how we communicate the gospel by serving others. We love people exactly where they are. At times we will get scratched, but the reward of seeing restoration in another person will balm any wound. Tough situations often produce the deepest and most meaningful relationships because people witness how deeply you really do care for them. To communicate the gospel in action, we must be willing to sacrifice of ourselves to demonstrate the unconditional love of Christ.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers you did it to me.’
We are surrounded by hurting people all day, every day.
Are you living your life in such a way that others experience the gospel through the way you serve them?
by Robert Garcia – Pastor of Restoration
Real Life Ministries Texas