|When Jesus was asked to give the greatest commandment of all time, He proclaimed that it is to love God with all of your heart, soul and mind. In Matthew 22, He follows this commandment by saying, “The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Two main themes emerge in these commandments: total dedication to God and service to others.
Complete surrender to God is an essential piece to show others His love. This surrender is guided through involvement in our communities.
The apostle Paul emphasizes community when he says, “If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (Philippians 4:1-4).
We are able to know God more fully through community because there we are taught, supported, challenged and encouraged by other believers in faith and love.
In the second commandment, Jesus talks about the importance of loving others. Service helps us to humble ourselves, use our resources and take the love of God out into the world as witnesses of our own gospel transformation. Fortunately, we live in a community thriving with opportunities to get involved and to serve.
The Twin Cities area provides a home for more than half of Minnesota’s residents. There is a great need here for volunteers to aid organizations that aim to reduce crime, provide better education opportunities and administer basic needs.
Due to the economic recession, many nonprofit organizations are suffering because of the combination of less income and greater community needs. You can be a part of reducing that crisis by contributing your time, resources and skills to enrich our community.
Minnesota has more than 30,000 nonprofit organizations from which to choose, and many of them are based in the Twin Cities. You can build a house with Urban Homeworks, tutor a child through World Vision or cook meals for people with life-threatening illnesses at Open Arms.
Community events like the Ignite Conference, the Christian Community Fair and The Story Tour will fill you with God’s passion and unite you with believers in the community.
Many people have stressed the importance of using our hands and feet to serve God. But why stop there? We can use our mouths, arms, legs, minds, finances and so much more to serve Christ and be witnesses to others. We are surrounded by people in need who are broken and suffering. They need the gospel for truth, joy, peace and purpose.
This need is especially apparent during the holiday season. With Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching, there are plenty of people who do not have enough money, resources or love in their lives to feel excited about the holidays. You can change that by making Thanksgiving meals with the Union Gospel Mission or packing a shoe box with gifts through Operation Christmas Child.
God gives each of us specific skills that He calls us to use to serve His people. What are you good at? Budgeting? Listening? Coordinating? To discover your own gifts and calling, ask yourself: What does my heart break for? What am I fiercely passionate about? What comes naturally to me?
The answers to these questions can guide you to where you are called to serve.
In our culture centered on attainment and consumption, it is difficult to sift through the screaming voices of selfishness and listen to the quiet whisper of God telling us to give of ourselves regardless of personal gain. The voice of culture says “Get” while God says “Give.” Culture tells us to “take” while God tells us to “create.”
Our culture demands performance while God honors praise.
Jesus rewards risk for the glory of His kingdom. This is shown in many biblical examples like Daniel, Joshua and Moses. Jesus says that the “first” and “greatest” in His eyes are the servants of the world (Mark 9:35; Matthew 23:11). He also said it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
We are to follow Jesus’ example and, as it says in Mark 10:45, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
So reach out. Travel on a mission trip. Donate money. Serve at a local organization. Smile at that lonely person. Pray for the people who frustrate you. Take on something that is bigger than your immediate needs. Give of yourself. And you will be greatly rewarded.
Jessica Doffing is a senior at the University of St. Thomas, where she studies Communication, Journalism and Spanish.