I really like the Nike slogan—"Just do it." Simple, relevant, yet challenging. The “Just do it” statement is bold enough to challenge you for one thing only: action. Not words, not good intentions, not planning, but simple and raw action. If you are sitting for too long, stand up and move. If you are in bed waiting for something to happen, get up and start doing what you know is the right thing to do. It is simple like that—just do it.
Jesus didn’t stay in heaven contemplating human beings’ need of salvation and talking to the Father about it. He decided to just do it. He came to earth, and He showed compassion toward us. He spoke to people. He healed them. He spread love. He served till the end. His love was active, not passive.
Our love towards humanity also must be an active love. Our compassion cannot be passive. If we know what we must do, let’s do it! This is not a new idea, or a new commandment. Jesus said that we must love others and He left the example of how to love them—through acts of service. Pay attention to this Bible verse: “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for you came to church and sang songs from the hymn book, you read from the King James Version, you gave your tithes and offerings, you put out so many fires between the members of your church, you built a nice church building, you kept a vegetarian diet, you wore a suit and tie to look important, you worked for the church, you became a pastor, and once in a while you served someone…now enter to the kingdom of God” (Matt. 25:34-36).
Wait a minute! That’s not what the Bible verse says! However, that is exactly how we are living. We think the way we are living our pastoral lives is all that there is, that we are already fulfilling Jesus’ great commission. However, Jesus has different things in mind. Here is what He really said: “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for 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’” (Matthew 25:35-36).
Do you see the difference? These things are simple acts of compassion that anyone can do! You do not have to be the pastor or even to receive approval from the church board to visit the sick or feed the hungry. We don’t need a budget to visit someone in the prison. We don’t have to have an extra income to offer a sandwich and a bottle of water to the homeless. What is required? Nothing. Just our willingness to do it. We just need somebody to start, and that little spark will become a fire that will spread to the members of your church.
I have been involved with Compassion Ministry for the last couple of years, and I have had the privileged to mobilize thousands of young people and church members to go out and serve the community with acts of compassion. How did it happen? I just did it and they followed! Here are some ideas to move in that direction:
1) Google local shelters, nursing homes, community centers in your area, and get the addresses and telephone numbers.
2) Invite 1-2 church members to visit those places with you. Introduce yourself (your name, not your position). Nobody cares about your church position; they want to know if you are willing to help.
3) Tell them the days you are available to help, most of the time they will have an opening for you to serve. Check their full schedule, so that you can invite other church members to start serving in different hours of the week.
4) When you are scheduled to volunteer, be there 15 minutes before you start your work.
5) Share with the church members what you are doing and motivate others to follow your initiative. Take pictures, promote it through Social Media.
I have been pastoring a new church for the last three months, and I have been following these steps in Ellicott City Church. I invited Thomas Francis, a retired church member to join me and in just a few hours we personally contacted more than eight organizations. All, without exception, gladly accepted our volunteer time to serve the community with them.
We decided to join one of the organizations which daily feeds the homeless called Manna House INC in Baltimore, MD. We serve there once a week, and we help to feed more than two hundred people. Other church members have been joining Tom and me, and in the next few weeks, we will connect the Pathfinder and Adventurer Clubs with that organization as well. The fire is beginning to spread.
If you don’t want to join an organization but instead would like to do something different, check the website: compassionmovement.org, where you can find ideas and projects to implement in your local church creatively. Just do it!
Pastor Paulo Macena, is the Lead Pastor of Ellicott City SDA Church in the Chesapeake Conference.