Several years back now our family began monthly sponsorship of a child through Compassion International in Uganda. Every Christmas Compassion asks us if we want to give a little extra to provide a special gift for our child. One year after having sent the monetary gift, our Compassion child sent us a beautiful thank you note. I will never forget it and the accompanying picture. Our child told us the gift we gave enabled her and her family to get some much needed supplies and to have a special treat for Christmas – orange soda. Were we ever caused to pause. We bought soda or coffee for ourselves most days. My own children found more than a bottle of soda under the tree on Christmas morning. The experience was a tangible challenge to the way we lived our lives. I asked myself, “Is that all I give you and your people, Jesus?” Is there not more I can sacrifice? How much do we really need to live our lives and what are you calling us to sacrifice?”. Jesus shared a story about a king who said to the righteous “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink…” and the righteous asked when they had done these actions and the king replied “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:35, 40, NIV). In the following days I asked myself many questions, “What am I teaching my children? How is my life making a difference? Who am I feeding and caring for in this world and who do I just walk by every day without a second glance?”. It is easy to talk about wanting to serve others, but more challenging to make it happen. These days our family is learning to live more simply and we are learning to spend time loving more sacrificially. Randy Alcorn’s teaching on the treasure principles has some wonderful and practical applications of this teaching. God blesses us not so we can accrue more for ourselves and our families but so we can bless others.
We don’t live a life of compassion because we are trying to earn rewards, we serve because Jesus served. Jesus walked among us – God incarnate – he loved, sacrificed and died that we might know true life. The incarnation is a reality and it is a game changer. We love because He first loved us. We serve because Jesus served with towel and basin. This Christmas be a voice for the voices on the margins.
Challenge your family, friends and church community to share more than a soda with Jesus. There are many gift programs such as through World Vision and Compassion that will allow you to give a heifer, a chicken or a clean water filter to people who are in desperate need. There are children who have parents in prison who need someone to hold them, people who are hungry who need someone to serve them a meal, people who are lonely who need a visit – and they are all within our reach.
When Jesus walked this earth he did not travel around the world to share his message of hope and healing. Rather, he found people in his neighborhood and as far as his feet could take him to love and share the gospel with every day. We do not have to head to a foreign land either. We can serve right where we are currently planted! This Christmas may we give more than we receive, may we humble ourselves and sacrifice…why not give up your own Christmas gifts to give to others? As social workers and people of Christian faith we are called to live out justice not just at Christmas but every day of our lives. Let us capture the fervor of the first Christians who cared for one another and lived as brothers and sisters in true Christian community (Acts 2:44, 45). Share more than a soda with Jesus today!
Julia Pizzuto-Pomaco teaches Christian Social Ministry at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach Florida She has a PhD in New Testament from the University of St Andrews in Scotland and a BSW and MSW from Temple University. She has been an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian church since 1999 serving in suburban, rural and urban congregations. She strongly believes Christians are called to live in community and share the good news while caring for people on the margins. You can learn more about her pastoral ministry at CrossRoads Jupiter. She has been a member of NACSW since 2004.