Finals were over and summer had officially begun.
Unlike many of my friends, I wasn’t heading off to counsel at a camp or fly overseas on a mission trip. I was staying at home and working.
However, ministry was in my summer plans.
The place I work is focused on ministry—a Christian music publishing company.
I also planned to continue my regular involvement with the music and children’s ministry at my church.
My schedule was packed, and I was ready to begin serving God.
Yet, something was missing.
Something that was so obvious, yet didn’t even cross my mind.
But God knew.
And He cared enough to show me.
l was driving home after a long day at work—tired, annoyed with the bumper-to-bumper traffic and absorbed with my own thoughts.
Then I saw him. A dirty, scraggly bum with a cardboard sign that read:
“Hungry. God bless.”
I mentally rolled my eyes. This man was probably just another drug-addicted, lazy, homeless beggar who leads a miserable life due to his own foolish choices and takes hard-working people’s money so that he can shoot up and blank into an oblivious high.
Well, he wasn’t about to get any of my money. Or my sympathy.
The light turned green, and I drove away without a second glance.
Then God’s spirit spoke. Not audibly, but straight to the depths of my heart.
“You do not even care if that man dies and burns in Hell for eternity. You love to feel important, and you love your busy schedule full of good works. You honor Me with your lips, but your heart is far from me.”
It was in that moment that God showed me how wrong my priorities were.
I appeared to be actively serving God, but inside, I had slipped away from what my purpose as a Christian should be.
I loved ministry more than people.
Jesus says that the greatest commandments are to love God and love others (Matthew 23:37-40). Loving people was not anywhere near the top of my agenda.
I had time for public service but not for people.
Jesus’ entire ministry was based on people. His love for mankind was the reason He came.
Jesus was punched, whipped and hung naked on the cross because He loved people so much that He paid the price for their sins.
Jesus is my example.
I call myself a Christian, an imitator of Christ, but I didn’t even care about who Jesus died for.
I was so wrapped up in my good works. I called my actions ministry, but God called them “filthy rags.”
In that moment, I prayed and asked God to forgive my foolish, selfish heart.
Through the rest of the summer and continuing into this semester, God has consistently reminded me that I must reach out to the dying world around me.
Loving others does not come easily for me. In fact, public ministry is much less messy than getting mixed up with complicated human beings.
But that doesn’t matter. Love is still a command.
I’m learning to take time out of my busy schedule to talk with and really listen to people.
I look into their eyes and remember that Jesus died for them. People matter.
Without love my ministry means nothing to God (I Corinthians 13).
With God’s help, I want to prioritize and recklessly love the unlovable.
I want God’s focus to be my focus—people.
Hurting people are all around—the cashier in Walmart, the mom at the park, the freshman you sit next to in class and the nicely dressed person in church who appears to have it all together.
People everywhere are broken and need to be reminded just how much Jesus loves them.
No matter how important your schedule, how upstanding your reputation or how crucial your ministry may seem, don’t forget about people.
Don’t forget who Jesus died for.
Don’t forget what every Christian is commanded to do—love people.