As I do every morning, recently I read a devotional (God helping me write my newsletter article) that touched my heart. The devotional was about “Unconditional Love.” It caused me to look deep within myself and ask the hard question; is this YOU? Sadly, in reality, I fail at this more than I am successful. Below are excerpts from that devotion, from the book Live, Love, Lead by Brian Huston.
“If you want to love the way Jesus loved, if you want your life to be characterized by love in a way that reflects the heart of God to everyone you meet, then pay attention to how you respond to people who make you uncomfortable. You know…the ones who are different from you in significant ways, the ones you don’t like, don’t understand, and don’t enjoy. The people who hold different beliefs, practice different lifestyles and hold distinctly different priorities from your own.
As painful as relationships can sometimes be, we are relational beings, created in God’s image to belong, to serve, to worship and to live in community. We’re called to be his hands and feet and God often touches our life through those around us; relationships are the lifeblood of the Church.
Because of his unconditional love for all people, we often find God in the midst of places and situations where we least expect him – on the street corners and in alleyways, in hospitals and prisons, orphanages and courtrooms.
What frames the tone of your life? How often do you stretch beyond your comfort zone to reach out to people? The ability to enjoy a big, spacious, open-hearted life is directly proportional to your ability to love everyone, especially those who are different from you. Remember – everywhere you find people, you will also find God.”
The last part of the devotion said, “Be challenged today to live outside of yourself. Stop and give time to people you may not normally associate with, be aware of your surroundings and of people who may need the love of Christ lavished on them today – through you. Be willing to be a vessel used by God, not just toward people whom you love and agree with, but to people whom you may find difficult or disagree with. Ask God to give you wisdom and strength to be Christ-like to each and every person you encounter.”
This devotion brought to light how often I pass up opportunities to serve others, to learn something about people I don’t know, or to see people I may shy away from in a different light. Both times I served at the Safe House in Delaware with New Hope’s Missional Engagement Team, I got to KNOW people that I had only SEEN in church. We worked side by side, labored for a cause, and built relationships. At our latest All Church Outreach on April 29, we had SEVERAL opportunities to BUILD RELATIONSHIPS in and around our community and within the church. Opportunities to demonstrate Jesus’ love by giving our time and talents. We can touch the lives of others, simply by providing a much needed service for God’s Glory. Working alongside others in a common cause builds solid relationships, and satisfies our goal to have missional engagement as part of New Hope’s DNA.
As I reflect back to a Saturday last fall, when I was attending my grandson’s soccer game behind Grace Brethren Church on Liberty Rd., I remember pulling into the parking lot, noticing 40-50 people of all ages in jeans and sweatshirts. They were pruning trees, trimming shrubs, picking up sticks and debris, and moving wheelbarrows full of mulch to be spread in mulch beds and around trees. I asked a gentleman sitting inside the church who those people were. He said, “They are members of the church, working on our fall beautification project. We do this in the fall and spring every year. We have a great deal of pride in our church and this gives us a chance to work side by side, learning about each other and performing a service that saves us money.”
Have you thought that maybe we at New Hope Church could do the same thing? There is not a church in Central Ohio with the exposure and recognition that “The Big Church by the Zoo” has. We are boldly perched for everyone who travels down Powell Road to see. We have a beautiful church, with beautiful landscaping, that we pay $10,640 a year to maintain. Could that $10,640 be better used to serve our community, His Place, the Dublin Food Pantry, Young Life, and other area entities?
Just maybe, this is the start of something BIG!! To the Glory of God!!
Financial Report as of March 31, 2017
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