Today in a world filled with heart rending scenes of violence upon the innocent, more than ever we need ask ourselves in the soberest tones, “how can I make a difference?” The answer lies in another question, oft repeated in a frivolous manner, but most meaningful if asked with real intent: “what would Jesus do?”
My mother, upon the death of her own mother, went to work in a nursing home, because there she could serve others in memory of her own beloved parents. One day a new patient was brought to the home. He recognized mother as the little neighbor girl now grown up. As a child, mother and her siblings would walk to school a long distance in the cold. That distance would have been considerably shortened had this neighbor allowed the children to cross his farm property. His refusal caused them to have to walk a long distance around his property. Now, many years later, he was very elderly and an invalid, and literally at my mother’s mercy. “Do you know who I am?” he asked her. “Yes,” she replied. “You are my patient.” So loving and tender was her care that at his request she became his special caretaker for the remainder of his life.
Each of us recognizes those moments in our lives when the Lord has carried us. For such we are grateful. But ingratitude would be in those moments when, seeing another in need, we fail to do for him or her what Jesus would do were He in our place. Yes, we may make great pretense about how we love Jesus, but our words are indeed hollow if we fail to apply balm upon the wounds of another in need.
Many years ago I asked a man I much admired what I could do as a leader to make a difference. He looked at me intently, and then said quietly. “Love the people, Chris. Love them and serve them.” Such was his life and impact on others that I knew without doubting that he followed his own counsel. We will discover that when we involve ourselves in the service of others, our own cares and burdens will be lightened.
As the days of our Lord’s earthly ministry were drawing to a close, He gave the following parable which I quote in part: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me…” (Matthew 25: 34-36)
Following that prescription, we will remember those less fortunate than ourselves. Many of us recall the sweet story of the very plain young lady in a Utah high school who was taunted and bullied because of her looks. The school’s very popular football quarterback made it his mission to befriend her, and the rest of the team followed suit. They escorted her to class, they sat with her at lunch, they made her day, and they made her life! It changed the lives of the benefactors as well. That was, for those young men, the Lord’s service at its heroic best, worthy of emulation, as well as the Savior’s eventual praise one day: “inasmuch ye have done it unto the least of these…ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)