Christmas time is one of my favorite holidays. It’s amazing how all of the sudden the attitude of the culture shifts and begins to focus more on others, rather than themselves. You see people cheerfully planning sacrificial acts of love for friends and family. For Jesus, it was different. His focus constantly remained on others and He radically changed the world.
Jesus drew a crowd wherever He went. People clamored just to touch his clothes in hopes to be healed. Yet time after time, He would look through the eyes and into the soul of that one person, and then touch their life with His sacrificial love. He would walk all day just to get to another village to reach the people there. He would go without eating because he was so preoccupied with reaching a woman. He would stay up all night interceding on behalf of the people he would minister to the next day. Then after washing his disciple’s feet, he demonstrated the ultimate picture of sacrificial love by giving His very life for those who did not deserve it. Love caused him to sacrifice.
He told His followers, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” He fully intended for us to do the very same kinds of acts that demonstrate sacrificial love. This is exactly what the early church did. For the first 300 years of their faith, even though it was an outlawed religion in the Roman Empire, the early followers of Christ were constantly sacrificing to express Jesus’ love. For example, they would adopt babies abandoned on the street because there were no orphanages to take them. Christians would bandage the wounds of soldiers who had been injured in battle and feed them, even though those very soldiers might be the ones torturing other believers. These early followers of Christ would flood into cities looking for sick people to minister to when everyone else had fled because of a spreading epidemic. As a result, these heroic believers ended up changing the entire Roman Empire in only 300 years because of sacrificial acts of love.
This is our heritage. This is how our faith was born, and it was normal for the first 300 years of Christianity. When they signed up to be a follower of Christ, they knew it meant a lifestyle of sacrificial love.
Now it’s our turn. We get to be God’s army of love, demonstrating His heart as we sacrifice for others. Please note, it is not enough just to say we love people. Jesus’ love always involved sacrifice. How about taking Jesus’ love to the least loved in the world? To those who are least likely to ever hear of Him? It will take sacrifice to do it. Will you give away an hour, a day, a weekend or a summer? Will you raise money to get there or go to the side of your city most people avoid? Will you eat food that is very different, possibly sleep on floors, and work long hours for people you don’t even know, all because you know He values them?
Christ came to show humanity what God’s love really looks like. He showed us – again and again – that his love picks us up; whoever you are, however filthy, however sinful, and we are made new. Jesus came to what seemed to be the least noticed, the most desperate, the very people that society overlooked and shunned; He showed compassion to all. His purpose was set, His resolve unwavering. His sacrifice is our standard; His life was, and is today, the most powerful thing in the universe- a love that marks us for eternity!
During this holiday season, let’s remember the true roots of our Christianity. I personally challenge you to begin today. Purposefully decide what sacrificial acts of love you can do this hour, day, week, month, year, and beyond. This year is your opportunity to join in a massive effort to get the world’s attention like the early church did…like Jesus did. Young people and their leaders/parents are joining together as a faceless army of love to pick up where the early church left off. Join thousands of teens who are already committed together to make one million acts of sacrificial love all around the world today. Start in your community. Go on a mission trip. Help them go on a trip. The spirit of giving at Christmas is only the beginning. www.millionacts.com