“And a second [commandment] is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” — Matthew 22:39
Part one of this three-article series on serving the nations in our own community explored the question, “How can we serve our community?” This second article focuses on another important question, “How can our community serve us?”
Before we can address how our community can serve us, we must ask from a biblical perspective why should they serve us. We must see our neighbors through the eyes of our God — as people created in His image. Regardless of their religion, our neighbors have been created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 3:27). As such, we must recognize that each and every person has the God-given capacity to love and serve others. Receiving someone’s acts of service can affirm their worth and empower those who have been culturally marginalized.
Especially with impoverished immigrant communities, such as refugees and migrant workers, it can be easy for Christians to approach the relationship only as care-providers. People in such need may not have many possessions, but what they do have they want to share. They are typically quick to invite their new Christian friends to stay for tea or dinner. Rather than worrying about the potential burden and turning down their offer, we should humbly accept it. Jesus teaches us that, “…it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). By accepting our friends’ generosity, we bless them by allowing them to feel the dignity they were given by our Creator. Two very practical ways we can go about this are to receive their hospitality and their help.
Receiving someone’s acts of service can affirm their worth and empower those who have been culturally marginalized.
1. RECEIVING HOSPITALITY
My family has found that the vast majority of our international neighbors from every religious, national and cultural background are extremely hospitable. As we begin to build friendships with these neighbors, we are often invited into their homes. In fact, we have found that it is often easier to get into our friends’ homes than to have them over to our place. While we should always be willing to have our neighbors into our space, the biblical responsibility of going into theirs belongs to us. We should be quick to receive such offers of hospitality and go into our international friends’ homes.
Not only does receiving their hospitality empower our neighbors, it also helps deepen relationships with them and creates windows for sharing the hope of the gospel. As Jesus sent out the disciples in Luke 10, He commanded them to, “…eat what is set before you…and say to them, ‘the kingdom of God has come near to you,’” (10:8-9). Unrushed time spent breaking bread around a table together is the perfect environment to enjoy conversations around the meaningful truths of the gospel in our lives.
2. RECEIVING HELP
The deepening of the friendship also provides opportunities for service. A few months ago, I needed a ride to go pick up my car from the shop. As I thought through the list of friends who live near me, the Lord put a neighbor from Nepal on my mind. I called *Rajesh, and he immediately came to my rescue with a ride. Until then, we had helped him and his family quite a bit as they are recent immigrants. Now that Rajesh had an opportunity to be the one helping me, he was thrilled. As we talked about serving one another, God provided a great opportunity for us to discuss how Jesus modeled sacrificial service.
While it often seems more natural for us as Christians to take the posture of serving others, there are times when humbly receiving hospitality can open doors to the gospel that would have otherwise been closed. We should continue loving our neighbors through sacrificial acts of service while always being open to receiving the hospitality of others for the glory of God. In the next and final article of this series, we will explore what it looks like to serve alongside our neighbors.
*name changed for security purposes