By Kelly Carr
Just last week we discussed the concept of missions being not just overseas but in our own backyards. This week we explore the examples of people who are actively serving right in their own backyards.
If we are to engage our community with the love of Christ, we have to be present. Most relationships are built up close.
Consider God’s own example. He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:8). And after sin created a barrier in the close relationship between God and humans, God again drew near and closed up the distance in his redemption process: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).
The Greek word for “made his dwelling” is skenoo. Skenoo can be interpreted a few ways, but one is that Jesus “tabernacled” with us. This hearkens back to the wandering Israelites who had no permanent worship structure—the image of the movable tabernacle was about setting up camp, putting up a tent to stay for a time. Through Jesus, God pitched a tent among humans and decided to hang out for a while.
We are surrounded by people. Even if we live more remotely, we likely have interactions with others on some regular basis. We can easily pass people by in our comings and goings and not know a bit about the folks we see. Or we can make the choice to get more involved and get to know the faces who make up our community. We can tabernacle, pitch a tent next to others to truly dwell among them.
Serving is a way of dwelling among others. When we serve another person, we see that individual as a creation of God, unique and loved by him. Serving involves communicating, looking into another’s eyes, and offering a bit of ourselves with the hopes of drawing a little closer to another human being. Serving can bond people and create an experience where stories are shared.
Serving looks different for each individual and for each community. There are many amazing ministries out there, offering examples of ways to reach out. But your skills and passions are unique, and the needs of your community are specific to where you live. Don’t worry if your service looks different from others—it should! When you find a way to meet a need, that’s service. Do it to the best of your ability. You may initiate an endeavor and get others to join you, or you may jump in on a ministry that is already on its way. Or you may individually see an opportunity and do it quietly, without fanfare.
The important thing is to begin. Serving helps us invest deeper and take ownership in our communities. Having a greater understanding of the people who live around you will open your heart to the ways God is at work or wants to be at work in their lives.
“Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45). Let’s find ways to serve right where we dwell and to truly dwell among those God has placed in our lives.