So, this summer I’m going to be blessed enough to be staying in Memphis, Tennessee for street ministry for about two months. I figure it’ll be a good opportunity for me to let Jesus work through me and to figure out where He’s taking me after seminary.
It’s weird though, because this missions trip is about reaching out to the needy, the least of these, which is what I am all about. But up until this point, every encounter in which I’ve attempted to encourage someone has been based on me saying some biblical truth expressed in a rhetorical way. Some quirky way of looking at the situation, some sort of logic to convince the person to keep fighting the good fight. But these are at-risk children I’m going to be with all summer. Children. When they look me in the eye and tell me about what they’re afraid of, no amount of biblical reasoning I give will heal their hearts. This has to all be based on love. For without it, I truly have nothing to give these kids.
It finally makes sense to me why Paul once said, “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2, 3 NIV) I mean, God moves in my life a lot. He gives me words to say, He tells me things a lot of people don’t know and He brings me deeper into understanding everyday. But what is the point of me understanding what the Bible is saying and knowing God’s will if I’m not applying it? What’s the point of offering myself to these kids all summer if all I have to give is the noisy clanging of my biblical rhetoric? Without love, this is nothing. Without God’s heart beating inside of me, there’s nothing I can do.
And I don’t think this just applies to children. I guarantee that people would be more appreciative of my sympathy and genuine love in their times of need than a biblical explanation to their struggles. True story. I think that’s how I could most be like Jesus.