One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it? The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”“ Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
I enjoy grocery shopping. When I have the time to look over recipes, plan a meal, and shop for interesting ingredients, I find I really enjoy the process. That might be why I seem to end up in food pantries when I serve. On one of those occasions we had the pleasure of packing groceries for people in need. We had a pantry full of food and it was our job to decide what items to give out. It was fun knowing a family might have teenagers so we could provide some Gatorade, yummy snack food, and even a frozen pizza. Or a family with smaller children might get a cake mix so they can help mom bake. As I brought a cart to a family another gentleman came to me and asked if he could get “some of those small pies”. He raved about how much he loves pies. I told him I would check and when I brought his cart out, I whispered to him that I snuck a few extra pies in his bag for him. He stopped, looked at me with a serious, but heartfelt look, grabbed me and gave me the biggest hug.
When a religious scholar challenged Jesus’ command to love his neighbor, Jesus told him the story of a Jewish man traveling to Jerusalem when he was attacked and left for dead. Of the three men who traveled down that same road, only one stopped to care for the injured man. Perhaps the other two were too busy or didn’t have the skillset to help a sick and dying man. Perhaps the one who did stop to help had the same reasons but instead chose compassion over his own needs.
There may be those who think of service as an obligation to qualify as a good Christian. Others think of it as just one more thing to add to their already busy life. Then there are those who think they are not experienced or good enough to serve. The reality is, it is not our faithfulness, efforts, or ability that enables us to serve. Instead, God’s faithfulness and presence in our lives gives us the power to discover our purpose, which is to know Him and make Him known in this world. Let’s allow that power to fill our hearts and open our eyes to the needs of others, even if that need is just some of those delightful small pies.