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Blog-What-Motivates-Relief-Efforts-09.15.17

As the stories of human suffering continue to develop from the recent hurricanes, the stories of everyday Americans joining the relief effort continue as well. From the local coffee shop offering customers a chance to donate a dollar to large corporations helping sponsor nation-wide concerts, the kindness demonstrated and efforts shown are impressive.

One special category of relief workers are the people of faith represented by faith-based organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse, the Southern Baptist, the Salvation Army, and many local churches. As a follower of Christ, I am grateful for all God is doing to help people through the efforts of so many other people of faith. One example this week is Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary, where I have the privilege of teaching. Together around 100 students, staff, and administrators travelled from Springfield, Missouri to Houston, Texas to help with the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Although I could not travel with them, I had the privilege of praying for them as they prepared to embark (see the pictures below).

Many people keep asking the same question:

What motivates such generosity and care from people of faith?

Ultimately and simply – love. The Bible writers regularly challenged the Christian to enjoy the love of Christ personally and enjoy sharing it as well. The love of Christ influences and impacts the Christian in various ways.

Christ’s Love

Since Christians have and do receive the love of Christ, we are to be motivated by it. Paul recognized the love Christ demonstrated toward him as a major motivation for all that he and other Christians do. He wrote, “For the love of Christ compels or controls us, because we discern that if One died for all, then all died: and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

Paul’s logic is simple: since Christ demonstrated the most extreme love by dying on the cross for our sins to allow us the ability to live forever with God in eternity, the least we can do is choose to sacrificially serve Christ and others. Therefore, when the Christ-follower sees the catastrophic effects of a hurricane, we are compelled to sacrificially seek to serve others.

Desire to Live Worthy of the Gospel

The Gospel refers to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ in order to secure the salvation of people. In an expanded sense as well, the gospel refers to life in Christ as well. Various passages challenge the Christian to live worthy of the gospel – to live in our communities in a way that is consistent with the message and meaning of the gospel.

In Philippians, people of faith specifically receive the challenge to only live worthy of the gospel (1:27-2:30). The writer describes part of living worthy as paying attention to the needs of others, as Christ demonstrated on the cross. Paul writes, “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:1-4).

The Christian lives constantly receiving the comfort of life in Christ, the comfort of the love of Christ, the benefits of the Spirit, and the affection and compassion of Christ. Since that is true, the Christian then has the same love toward others – ultimately seeking to sacrificially love people like Christ (Philippians 2:5-11). Helping with relief efforts is another example of seeking to love in this way – as those who are aware of Christ’s love seeking to share it with others.

Desire to Love Neighbors

When Jesus first (Matthew 22:37-40) and Paul later (Galatians 5:14) summarized the law of God, they pointed in two directions.

“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-40).

First, love is upward toward God, often referred to simply as worship. We are to love God supremely with our whole hearts. This is the first commandment.

Second, love is outward toward others. This commandment relates to how our love goes horizontal throughout our community. We receive love vertically from God in Christ and seek to share that love horizontally with others. Although seeking to love others above one’s love of self is a good idea and certainly demonstrates kindness, it is also commanded. God never intended for us to just be receivers of the love of God in Christ; instead, we are to be conduits of that love as reflect it toward others.

Why are People of Faith so engaged in relief efforts?

Although there could be as many individual reasons as there are people, the ultimate reason for every Christian centers on the love of God in Christ. It is a pleasure to share it with others.

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