In those last hours before his betrayal, Jesus spoke to his disciples about what his life, and theirs, was all about. Two thousand years later, he says the same thing to us. On several occasions Jesus was asked to list the commandments according to importance. He boiled everything down to “love God and love others.”
On that Thursday evening, he not only narrowed the list down even further, he demonstrated what it would look like on Friday afternoon. And to us, what we would look like on Monday morning. He said that his disciples would be known by love. It's puzzling to many of us that he didn't mention education, buildings, clothes, or bands. Love was always the identifying mark of his teachings and his life. That night he set the bar even higher by saying, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
What does love look like? Well, the Rabbi said it looked like him. Not only what he said, but what he did. He washed their feet (even Peter and Judas) and then went out and died. Notice that he used the word “command”...not merely a suggestion. Discipleship means that we look like Jesus. And we act like Jesus. Easy to say, but so difficult to pull off.
Jesus loved “the least of these” by revealing that he was the messiah to a rejected woman in a despised country. He befriended a woman that everyone else wanted to kill. He ate with the hated tax collectors and touched the untouchables. Finally, he went to a cross and said, “Forgive them, they don't know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
Each week we get an opportunity to associate with “the least of these.” Men and women whom many have rejected. Some have even come close to giving up on themselves. Drugs and alcohol are the demons that have hardened their heart and stolen their joy. Christian Farms / Treehouse is a faith-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Temple. These residents come to us on Wednesday evening for a meal and a class prepared especially for them. The first Sunday of each month, they attend our worship time and stay for a potluck lunch. Many in our congregation volunteer as Spiritual Encouragers and spend time one-on-one with the folks there. We provide financial help to The Farm through blankets, pillows, clothing, bus tickets, prescription medicines, and a variety of other opportunities. Mainly, we give them a pat on the back, encouragement, and a listening ear. Along the way, we show them what Jesus looks like.
The folks at The Farm are no different than us. Romans 3:23 says that we all sin and fall short. “All” is a Greek word that means “all.” In Ephesians 2:10, God calls all of us Masterpieces...even those with blue hair and tattoos…even those who dress differently or smell differently.
One verse from a Casting Crowns song says, “break our heart for what breaks yours.” To hear the life stories of the men and women at The Farm is heartbreaking. They come for relief from their demons—to make the hurt go away. Professionals there do what professionals do, but we have the opportunity to present a person who can break the chains. Love is expressed not only by words, but by visible actions of acceptance and compassion.
Shirley Foster began our association with Treehouse over 13 years ago when she invited the ladies there to attend our Ladies Bible Class on Wednesday morning. After that, she asked if the men and women could come to our Wednesday meal and classes. They agreed. About eight years ago she asked Bill Nabers if he would teach a class for the residents after the meal on Wednesdays. Bill prepared the curriculum and taught the class with Ephesians 2:10 as the theme. That class continues today.
It is my belief that Father often comes to us and says, “I am going to do something in this world. I just want to know if you want to come along.” He doesn't need us to make Him better. There is nothing we can give to make Him richer. But He wants us...and that makes all the difference in the world.
Our association with CFTH did not begin around a table with a group of folks planning to start a “ministry.” There is still no “organization.” Just a group of people who want to show others what love looks like.
- Raymond Chapman
Take a few minutes—without distractions—to reflect on this story. Finish your reflection time in prayer. Pray especially for the ministries of Christian Farms and Treehouse.