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Devotional

Called to Love

by ANNE MAY PURPOSED Connecting with nationals Purpose
Called to Love
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
Colossians 3:1-2,12

Does anyone else love the new year? I love a fresh start. I’m going to wake up early, go for walks, eat more vegetables, pack my kids’ school lunches every evening… Are you laughing yet at my misguided optimism?


In the country where I serve, the new year is a big deal, but not for the reason you might think. Yes, some people make resolutions and set goals. It’s the Southern hemisphere, so a new school year is starting and it makes sense to reevaluate schedules and priorities. But there’s one thing everyone does to mark the new year: greeting people.


This confused me at first. Someone would greet me with “Blessings on the new year!” and I would look blankly at them because it was already halfway through January. But that’s the way here. No matter when it is, if it’s the first time you have seen someone in the new year, you mark it in your greeting.


This practice is now one I love, because it challenges my perspective. When I’m most preoccupied with self-improvement, my neighbors are focused on one another. Coming from an individualistic culture and serving in a community-oriented culture, I have a lot to learn. 


Even more, I am challenged by Paul’s instruction: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth… clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:1-2,12). Not with good habits, health, or home organization. Those things are fine, but they are not eternal; people are. 


If I’m honest, self-improvement easily becomes self-absorption. Being organized is a fine line from being controlling. I focus on what I do instead of who I am with and how I am relating to them. 


Regardless of the different types of ministry we do around the world, we all have one thing in common: neighbors. And our neighbors are eternal souls, loved and valued by God. Let’s “set our minds” on this most important, eternal calling: to love as we have been loved.


Closing Prayer
Jesus, thank you that through your work on the cross we have eternal life with you. I don’t often remember to live for eternity now. Help me to focus my attention on eternal priorities, especially the people you have placed in my life. Thank you that even though I fall short, you will help me to put on the clothes of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience every day. Help me to value this part of my ministry calling more than any work I could produce. Amen.
Resources
Article: 250 Conversation Starters This is a list I found of 250 conversation starters. It may be a way to get to know people beyond the usual “how’s it going?” Not all will work in all contexts, but this might help us get more creative with our conversations. I always feel valued when someone asks me an interesting or unusual question and really wants to know the answer!
Question for Reflection

Is there someone you know whose attention to others inspires you? How would you like to be more like this person?

Comments
Anne May
November 19, 2020

My friend Jerusha is amazing at remembering what you told her in your last conversation and asking about it the next time–how an event went, how you’re feeling after a discouragement at work, or how your kid is doing after being sick. It makes me feel valued. I would like to do this more, even if I just focus on a few people and keep up with what’s going on in their lives without having to ask again every time I see them.


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