13 If I speak in tongues of human beings and of angels but I don’t have love, I’m a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and I know all the mysteries and everything else, and if I have such complete faith that I can move mountains but I don’t have love, I’m nothing. 3 If I give away everything that I have and hand over my own body to feel good about what I’ve done but I don’t have love, I receive no benefit whatsoever.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
February is the “love month.” It is a month filled with hearts and cherubs and pressure to make sure your valentine knows that he or she is the object of your devotion. What is striking in contrast to this is how our society is treating each other. It is easy to love your valentine. It is easy to love those who are like you. The challenge is to love those who are not. Christ calls us to a higher standard. Christ calls us to love even those we dislike and even argue with. Christ calls us to love the ones we try to serve. What this means is that we should strive to look at everyone, especially those of lower socio-economic status, as equals in God’s eyes. This is so different than our world’s value system. However, seeing others through God’s eyes truly transforms ministry. Instead of looking at others as a charity case to help with our leftovers, we begin to see people as real people very much like ourselves who need help. It is a radical way to see others that allows us to respect the dignity of those we seek to help. Instead of throwing what we think they need at them, we can find out through conversation and relationship what the true needs are and work to resolve them. Just like a doctor seeks to cure the underlying cause of a symptom, we should be working to resolve the underlying cause of someone’s difficulty. It is much harder work, but it is important and life-saving. I believe that this approach is part of why God created the church in the first place.
We already have ministries here at SHUMC that work in this way. The Upper Room, in addition to the retail side, strives to work with families who are in need to resolve their underlying conditions and help them be self-sufficient. SHEEP works to resolve the underlying conditions of low self-esteem, faith, and social skills to help young students succeed in school and beyond. The Wings ministry works to resolve the underlying condition of sanitation that prevents women from being full participants in their own societies. Our youth group works to resolve the underlying pressures of an increasingly secular and divided society to enable young men and women to embrace faith, community, and personal integrity. All of these ministries change lives. We need to support these ministries with all that we have; our time, our talents, and our treasures.
Let us truly seek to love each other, uplift each other, and help each other’s needs be met. Let us continually seek new and exciting ways to truly love those around us. There is no better month to start than February.
Yours in Christ,