This Lent, love your neighbour as yourself
In the 40 days leading up to Easter, Christians around the world observe Lent – a period during which we prepare to remember the death and resurrection of Christ.
Christians look forward to the re-telling and reliving of the Easter story. We have a message of good news to tell the world! But we as Christians need to be living it for it to be credible. Becoming Christ-like makes us an example for our families, friends communities, and work colleagues, someone who is a model, a pacesetter: someone who influences others in positive ways, reflecting the light and love of God.
Being a godly example is a non-negotiable requirement. It is God's commandment. Are we providing the kind of example that will enhance people's lives? In the same way that Jesus ministered to people’s visible and spiritual hunger in the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6), so is the church to care for the physical and spiritual needs of our communities and the world. We can recall the faithfulness and goodness of God, and above all, his love. He cared for the hungry crowd, He cares for us. This love should compel us to serve – to be the "salt of the earth" (Matthew 5:13) and the “light of the world” (v14).
That means that Christians are called to:
- Remember God's faithfulness in the past.
- Realise the depth of suffering that exists (sometimes) in our lives, and (always) in the world.
- Re-tell the story of Jesus through verbal proclamation and serving our communities, motivated by the love of God.
For some Christians, the season of Lent is a time to study their Bibles and pray more intensively, and an opportunity to become closer to God. It is increasingly common to give up a "luxury" item for Lent such as chocolate, alcohol, or social media; in order to refocus on faith and contemplate Jesus Christ's sacrifice for us.
But Lent is not only an opportunity to receive the overflowing of graces God has to offer, it is a time to open the doors of our hearts. It is also our time to give, as God gave his only begotten son. Jesus was no stranger to the suffering of our world. He did not come to bring an end to unhappiness and poverty. He came to show us a better way to live, and taught us to love others before ourselves.
Poverty affects millions of children around the world. Food, medicine and shelter are vital to their physical survival; to their sense of dignity, health, and identity. But our ability to reach out to our neighbours is bringing hope. More people have been lifted out of extreme poverty in the past 25 years than in all the rest of human history. The under-five morality rate has declined by 56 per cent since 1990, according to the latest UN figures.
That’s still too many children dying, so this Lent why not move beyond giving up something for ourselves and give up something of ourselves by being the neighbour whose act of love helps one of the least, the last and the lost through the charity World Vision?
For churches and individuals who’d like to help the world’s most vulnerable children, contact World Vision about their free resources by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visit them online.
May God bless you all this Easter.
Minister Gail Thompson