Jesus exemplified love in action. He showed gentleness and humility, but also spoke up courageously for the poor, the oppressed, the lepers, the adulterers, the sinners, and the outcasts. He not only spoke up for them, but he touched them, sat with them, ate with them, loved them, was one of them and didn’t put himself above them. He said, “I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:27).
The foundation on which the latest seven-week Journey program, What Would Love Do? is built is a biblical parable told by Jesus found in Matthew 25: 31-45. In this parable, a mighty king appears on a throne. This king gathers all the nations together, and says, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you took me in, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” The people are surprised and ask when the king had needed help. Then the king replies, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
This is a call to service; we need to treat others well because our actions (and inactions) have a big impact. What Would Love Do offers a curriculum for putting love into action. What kind of love are we talking about? The kind that is not blind, but wise. The kind of love that can survey a challenging circumstance, and offer what is needed. This kind of wise love can be gentle, leading us to admit our faults and ask for forgiveness, or it can be firm, calling us to resist injustice. It is about developing an open-hearted, open-minded attitude so that our actions naturally flow from our love for others.
With this kind of attitude, we don’t have to work so hard to do good. Good things will certainly happen if we choose to act from love, and if we have a willingness to be loved by others along the way.
This seven-week program explores each of the ways the king in Matthew 25 tells us to.
Love Serves: “I was hungry and you gave me food.” In a loving environment where we know that our presence makes a positive impact, we gain emotional nourishment. We are surrounded by goodness; this is spiritual food. Feeding the hungry can mean anything from handing a bowl of soup to a homeless person on the street, to helping a friend use her talents.
Love Brings Truth: “I was thirsty and you gave me drink.” Water is essential for life. Just as hunger and thirst are closely related, so are the desire for goodness (hunger) and the desire to know what is true (thirst). The deepest, most urgent questions we ask represent our thirst on an emotional level. Getting good “water” is essential for our mental, emotional and spiritual health.
Love Welcomes: “I was a stranger and you took me in.” We are social beings. We thrive on touch, communication, friendship. Without enough genuine connection we may find ourselves feeling lonely, anxious or depressed. Just as our bodies move from place to place, we are also on an inner journey. This week we have an opportunity to welcome the stranger, both physically and spiritually, by offering the kind of instruction that helps them feel included, known and loved.
Love Comforts: “I was naked and you clothed me.” Clothes keep us dry and warm, and protect us from harsh environments. Beyond that, they represent a freedom of expression, a sense of pride, confidence and identity. Nakedness can represent feelings of self-doubt or shame. Offering spiritual clothing is reaffirming the truth about the person.
Love Visits: “I was sick and you visited me.” Being sick feels awful. Nothing helps us appreciate health more than having to lie in bed with fever and chills. Some people may not have any outward signs of illness, yet they are struggling internally and could use some kindness and compassion in their lives. Maybe we know someone who cheats. Maybe we know someone who treats others like dirt. Can we visit those who are sick in this way?
Love is Present: “I was in prison and you came to me.” Someone who sits behind bars often ranks high on the list of people to shun. Being present for someone who is stuck is yet another way to be a force of love in the world. Jesus tells us to find ways to be there for others who are in prison, either spiritually or physically, and to recognize our own internal messages that keep us trapped.
Love Rejoices: “As you have done it to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you have done it to me.” We reflect on how it is a blessing to be able to be there for each other, comfort each other, and meet each others’ needs. When it comes from love, we’re doing it with joy. No matter what situation we find ourselves in, the choice is ours. When deciding what step to take, we can simply ask, what would love do?
Join us as we explore serving the neighbor in concrete ways! Two world-wide launches, October 5th, 2014 and February 1st, 2015.
- Order your “What Would Love Do?” workbook or Leader’s Edition and start a small group!
- Read more information about the program