by Adrienne Christian
I joined the Makarios family officially in October of 2015. As a Christian and missionary I have been called to share His gospel to those lost, to encourage those who may be young in their faith, and to educate those who may otherwise not have the opportunity.
In the midst of an environment of broken families, physical and spiritual poverty, and the lack of education, I often wonder what exactly it looks like to love those in my community well. What does it mean to love like Christ loved me? He, being God, became a man and died on a cross to pay for my sins. What does it mean for me to sacrifice? What does it mean to love my neighbor as myself or to love my enemies? How does it look to make sacrifices in order to walk alongside those who live in my neighborhood? How do I love my neighbors who don't know Christ? How do I love those families who are struggling spiritually or those with whom I come in contact who are sick? How do I love my students as Jesus would love them even when it is hard?
In Luke 10, Jesus tells a lawyer that the way to eternal life is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind and he concludes saying love your neighbor as yourselves.
How should I love?
I should love God first… and I should love Him with all of myself.
The most important thing before serving, before educating, before anything else is to love God with everything we have.
For me, that looks like reading daily and stretching myself to know God more and more and grow in my trust in His holy plan. Sometimes it means going against the grain to please God instead of man. In Romans 12:1-2, Paul says that we should present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God… and that we should not be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewal of our minds… and then we will be able to discern what God's good and perfect will is.
We show love first by loving God.
Later in the parable in Luke, Jesus tells the lawyer something that is hard and sometimes even uncomfortable. He says that a close second to him loving God first is loving his neighbor. And, not that he should just love his neighbor but he should love his neighbor as himself.
In this community, when coming across poverty, the broken hearted, spiritual dryness, spiritual warfare, and lack of good education, I think to myself, how would I want to be loved? How would I feel loved? What makes me grateful to others when I'm sick, or hurt, or sad?
Jesus explains what it means to love in Luke 10 by telling a parable so that the young lawyer to whom he was speaking could understand better. He tells about the Samaritan who found a severely injured man on the side of the road. Unlike a few others who passed by and ignored the injured man, the Samaritan showed mercy and compassion.
Loving my neighbor means following the Samaritan's example.
The Good Samaritan stopped.
He gave up his donkey.
He sacrificed time.
He sacrificed money.
He sacrificed reputation in helping someone that was from a rejected culture.
And he sacrificed whatever his plans were for that day.
How then should I love?
I should love God first, and then I should love those around me as I would want to be loved… showing them mercy, compassion, and sacrifice. I should stop, listen, relate and sacrifice.
At Makarios, everyone has their own story of how they came to know the Lord and how they came to serve here. Everyone is in a different place in their spiritual journey. But first, we all love God. We are thankful for who He is and what He has done, and we strive to know Him better by reading His word and growing in our understanding of who He is. We pray together, read the Word together, and praise together.
Second, we love our neighbors. Whether it's missionaries walking alongside newlyweds by advising, comforting and spending time together, staff providing for the sick, neighbors providing transportation for those in their community who don't have a vehicle, or even relating to those who are the cultural outcasts, the Makarios family strives to be a blessing to the community around us. I see the compassion shown to the students who are struggling and the teachers who take extra time to help with their homework. I see the mercy shown by disciplinarians who forgive even when it's undeserved, and I see the sacrifice made by all staff to be able to serve those in need here in Montellano.
How should we love?
If we have accepted Jesus Christ, God has shown each of us compassion, mercy, and sacrifice by dying on the cross for our sins. We should love Him. Then, we have the choice to stop, listen and make a sacrifice to love those around us just like the Good Samaritan did in Jesus' parable.
The true question is will we take the challenge and love like God first loved us?