By Peter Amsterdam
October 15, 2013
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You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
‘I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
For Christ’s love compels us.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
The Family International’s fourth core value is:
Love for humankind. God’s unconditional love for humanity that knows no boundaries of race, creed, or status, motivates and guides us to help meet the needs of those we come in contact with, whether spiritually or practically.
God loves unconditionally. What does unconditionally mean? We could say that God’s love has no bounds, is unchanging, and without limitations. Unconditional love is sometimes defined as a love that is “given freely” to the loved one “no matter what.”
Each of us has sinned, and sin brings separation from God, and there is nothing we can do by ourselves that will repair that breach. Nevertheless, God loves us. His love isn’t dependent on us, as we can’t earn His love. He loves us despite our sinful nature. He loves those who don’t love Him. He loves us all “no matter what.” It doesn’t mean He loves all that we do, but He loves us. In fact, He loves humanity so much that He made it possible for the breach caused by our sins and wrongdoing to be bridged through the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus. Though we are sinners, God, because of His love for us, made it possible for us to be reconciled to Him.
As it says in Romans, chapter 5: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
The unconditional nature of God’s love for humanity is most clearly seen in the Gospels. The Gospel message is a story of divine rescue. You can see the example of Jesus’ love for humanity over and over throughout the Gospels. When someone asked Him for help, He gave it. He healed the sick so often that crowds of people came seeking Him out, so much so that He had to get up while it was still dark in order to have some time alone to pray. Jesus healed the servant of the Roman centurion, even when the Romans were oppressing His country. He healed the daughter of the Syrophenecian woman, who was of a different nationality and religion. He dined with the outcasts of society and welcomed women as His disciples and followers, which was totally unheard of in His day. Jesus didn’t limit His love to those of His own nationality, faith, moral standing, or whether the person was a friend or enemy. He emulated His Father’s love for all.
God loves us not because of who we are but because of who He is. He is the creator of all things. He’s the Almighty. He is all-powerful and knows everything, and yet He loves you and me. In fact, not just you and me and those of us who are Christians and who appreciate the great sacrifice He made in giving His only Son to die for us, but He loves every single person in the whole world equally and unconditionally. He loved us before we believed in Him, before we loved Him. Even if someone has never heard of God the Father, even if someone says they hate Him, He still loves that person unconditionally. God’s love is unfathomable. It is perfect. It is unconditional.
The foundation point for us as Christians in helping to meet the needs of those we come in contact with, regardless of whether those needs are physical or spiritual, is the understanding that every person is precious to God, regardless of age, race, nationality, physical appearance, economic status, religious belief, political affiliation, or sexual orientation. None of that matters; everyone is loved by God. He loves the beggar on the street as much as He loves the richest man in the world.
God asks that we value every individual, that we see humankind through His eyes of love, which means that we will look at others without bias, prejudice, or preconceived negative opinions. By embracing God’s perspective and seeing others as He does, we will avoid stereotyping people, or thinking of ourselves as better than others.
Understanding that God unconditionally loves all human beings and that His love knows no boundaries of race, creed, or status, guides our attitudes about others, especially those who are different from us in some ways.
Our commission as disciples, as those who walk in the Master’s footsteps, is to show the same love to others that Jesus showed. Of course, that’s easier said than done, and unfortunately, there are situations where we are sometimes tempted to be judgmental, or self-righteous, or downright unloving. It’s worth taking stock every once in a while to see how we’re doing in loving without partiality or favoritism. We might ask ourselves some questions, like:
How do I look at people who are different than I am? Say, someone who has a disability. What if a person has an unattractive disfiguring illness? Or how about someone who is poorly educated and can’t read or write? What is my reaction to a foul-smelling homeless person asking for money on the street corner? If I see drug addicts or prostitutes hanging around downtown, what do I think or say about them? What about someone who is different from me in that they’re überwealthy, ultra-fashion-conscious, or extremely thin or obese? What about if they are gay? When I see someone dressed in a way that reflects a religion which is not Christian, what is my reaction?
When you see someone who has fallen on hard times, do you subconsciously judge them or look down on them? Or do you try to put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself, “What if that were me? What if I was in their position? What if I lost my job and couldn’t financially take good enough care of my family? And what would it mean to me if someone were to lend me a helping hand or show me kindness?”
We don’t have to like every person’s belief system, lifestyle, or choices. We may not agree with them. They may live without regard to God’s moral standards, they may live lives of grave sin, but we must remember that no matter what their state, God loves them. Jesus said we should act as members of God’s family in the love we show to others. He said we should show love even to those who are our enemies so “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
We are meant to value and show respect to every person. Each person on earth is God’s creation just as we are, and God loves them just as He loves us. If we are following in Jesus’ footsteps, we won’t think other people are “below” us or inferior to us, no matter what their circumstances are. We are all equal in God’s eyes.
If we’re to live our lives following the example and the teachings of Jesus, then it’s important for us to understand that God loves each human being, and that Jesus died for each human being. We are instructed to love people, and on that basis we will do what we can to show God’s love in both practical and spiritual ways, to the best of our ability.
Jesus said that the two most important commandments are to love God and to love others. Clearly, loving our fellow man is crucial to our call as disciples. When we remember that Scripture says that every human being is made in the image and likeness of God, that love is of God, that God is love and He loves us all, then our thoughts, decisions, actions, and interactions with others should be guided by these principles based on God’s words. The awesome love of God is our touchstone; it’s an example of how we should love others. When we look at this benchmark, we understand that we are to emulate God’s attributes of love, compassion, and mercy, just as Jesus did.
We are told to let our light so shine that others may see our good works and glorify God. This is a call to action, as it expresses the understanding that God intends for us to interact with others in a manner that reflects Him. It’s a call to emulate Him, to treat others with love, compassion, and mercy. We’re called to be conduits of His beautiful, unconditional love to others. But this, like many other things on the path of discipleship, requires action. It requires giving on our part. It often requires some sacrifice. But when you think about Jesus’ sacrifice for us, there really can be no comparison.
This touching story makes the point well:
The story has been told of a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her five-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.
The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. He hesitated only for a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save her.”
As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”
The little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.
What a tender and beautiful example of love! The Bible says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
The Bible verses associated with this core value which you heard at the beginning of this video convey outward action. They are key action points, which point to things we are supposed to do, such as:
That’s quite a “to-do list” from God’s Word, isn’t it?
These verses direct our focus outward toward others. They speak of actions which are both spiritual and practical. They address the overarching need of humanity, that of receiving spiritual wholeness by coming to God through belief in Jesus, as well as the practical help which is needed to assist the downtrodden and needy, and to alleviate the suffering and poverty that exists around the world, both abroad and in our own backyards.
It’s a call to lay down our lives by contributing time, services, and goods to help those in need, both those in need of salvation and physical or practical help. God’s Word tells us that we are to inform others about Jesus and His sacrifice for us. It also speaks of caring for the weak, the infirm, the widows, the orphans, the hungry, the oppressed.
James, the brother of Jesus, expressed that the true practice of our faith consists of both outward and inward action. Outward toward others in practical ways, and inward through our devotion to God. He said: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
Manifesting our faith is not only inward activity; we are called to express it through our Christlike, Christ-emulating actions. This calls for sacrificing time we would use for ourselves, and instead giving it to others. It’s letting go of previously made plans in order to help others in need. It’s living our faith by intentionally doing things for the benefit of those in need.
Author Dave Branon wrote:
When Dave Thomas died in early 2002, he left behind more than just thousands of Wendy’s restaurants. He also left a legacy of being a practical, hard-working man who was respected for his down-to-earth values.
Among the pieces of good advice that have outlived the smiling entrepreneur is his view of what Christians should be doing with their lives. Thomas, who as a youngster was influenced for Christ by his grandmother, said that believers should be ‘roll-up-your-shirt-sleeves’ Christians.
In his book Well Done, Thomas said, “Roll-up-your-shirt-sleeves Christians see Christianity as faith and action. They still make the time to talk with God through prayer, [they] study Scripture with devotion, [they are] super-active in their church and take their ministry to others to spread the Good Word.” He went on to say the “anonymous people who are doing good for Christ may be doing even more good than all the well-known Christians in the world.”
As Rick Warren said in The Purpose Driven Life:
In heaven God won’t say, ‘Tell me about your career, your bank account, and your hobbies.’ Instead he will review how you treated others, particularly those in need.
Jesus set the example of the “roll-up-your-shirt-sleeves” concept. He constantly showed love to others. He felt compassion for those in need and was moved to loving action. He was merciful. He showed kindness. He fed the hungry and healed the afflicted. He fought against evil and unrighteousness.
God leads individuals differently regarding how they share God’s love and message. Some He leads to primarily spiritual ministries, others He leads to minister practically and physically to those in need, and some He leads to works that are a combination of both spiritual and practical aid. Some He leads to give financially to help support both spiritual and practical ministries. All these contributions to the work of God are needed, and He is pleased when we give of our time, strength, and resources, from each according to his ability unto each according to his need.
Whether you are meeting the spiritual, practical, or both needs of those you come in contact with, something important to remember is what Jesus said: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” So let’s do what we can to be tangible examples of God’s love for humanity, by following what He shows us to do to share Him and His love with those in need, spiritually through introducing them to Jesus, and practically though ministering to their other needs. Let’s roll up our sleeves and follow Jesus’ example, shall we?
Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptures are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Matthew 5:14–16.
 Matthew 9:36.
 Matthew 25:35–40.
 2 Corinthians 5:14 NIV.
 Ephesians 5:1.
 Romans 5:6–8 NIV.
 Mark 1:34–35.
 Matthew 8:5–13.
 Mark 7:25–30.
 Matthew 9:10–13; Luke 8:1–3; Matthew 27:55.
 Matthew 5:45 NIV.
 Matthew 22:37–40.
 Genesis 1:26–27; 1 John 4:7–8.
 Matthew 5:16.
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 1 John 3:16.
 James 1:27 NAU.
 Our Daily Bread, February 6. From a sermon by Dennis Davidson, Authentic Faith Works, October 26, 2009.
 The Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 126.
 Matthew 25:40.