Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Devotional by Laura Thomas: Cliques, Real Love, and Mission Work

On the Playground
A devotional by Laura Thomas

“My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love.”
~1 John 3:18 (The Message)

Remember back in elementary school? There on the playground, a select group of cool girls huddled together with the giant skip rope and played the best games together. They giggled and admired each other’s outfits and gave snobby looks to those on the periphery; the wallflowers. It was our initiation into the world of cliques.

As adults, it’s no prettier. We have cliques galore, just in bigger playgrounds. We gather at events, we shop at the appropriate stores, we drink specific coffee, and we live in similar neighborhoods. The “wallflowers”, those who don’t quite fit in for whatever reason, are left out again. And in our maturity, instead of giving snobby looks, we pretend not to notice.

As Christians, are we any different? Do we intentionally go looking for the “outsiders” or are we content to pander to our own kind exclusively? Are we opening our arms in readiness to accept the hurting or are we burying our heads in spiritual sand? Preaching to myself right here.

Jesus made it perfectly clear that we are not to stay comfy in our Christian cliques, but to be constantly looking to share His love and the Gospel with others, with “outsiders”. After hanging out with unsavory types, Jesus was criticized for mixing with “sinners".

“Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” ~Matthew 9:12-13 (The Message)

Pretty plain, isn’t it? Whether that means reaching out to the needy in our community or befriending the lonely mom across the street or singing in the local seniors’ home— we are called to welcome outsiders. To live with God's Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) in mind. To be looking for opportunities to tell of His love for all. To be willing to go out of our comfort zones for Jesus!

Perhaps we fear that if we open our hands to God in obedience, He might immediately send us to be a missionary in a foreign land forever… and that is glorious when it happens, but honestly—it’s pretty rare! Surely what He desires is a willing heart—to be ready to be used by Him and for His glory, whatever that may look like.

This is just a tiny (rather insignificant) example, but last week, I was pondering how I enjoy baking for people. Yes, baking. I would like to say I love to see others well nourished, but truth be told, I love to see their eyes light up and taste buds tingle with delicious treats like cookies and cupcakes and brownies. The special “in moderation” stuff, generally involving chocolate. I joke that baking is my love language. It’s probably not a joke.

And then this same week, I was asked if I would be able to bake for two separate groups of people in my community. It was as if God was giving me a wink and saying, “It’s your thing, have at it. It’s for My glory.” And the best part about it is that God can use me in this tiny, weeny way to bless others, those “outside” my usual sphere, those who need to feel loved and special. Yes, I can bake for my family and friends anytime and it’s all good, but sometimes God cracks the door just a little and offers us ways to bless others. 

We don’t have to go abroad to be a missionary.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” ~1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

Sometimes He merely desires us to use our gifts and talents to share His love tangibly right where we are. And sometimes He does call us to the mission field! God can be glorified in our kitchen and in remote villages. With our neighbors and in foreign countries. Either way, we have a precious gift to share and His light to shine, and only one lifetime in which to do it. Let’s practice real love and let’s welcome EVERYONE onto the playground. 

~*~
Author Bio: 
Laura is a published Christian author with a heart for inspiring and encouraging readers of all ages. 

She is truly multi-genre—with a published Christian teen fiction trilogy, marriage book, children’s stories, devotionals for Union Gospel Press, musings on her blog, and she now has a literary agent representing her Christian romantic suspense novel.

Laura is English and Canadian, married to her high school sweetheart, mom of three, passionate about faith and family…and chocolate!

~*~
Connect with Laura:
Website - www.laurathomasauthor.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Laura-Thomas-183771121724664/?ref=hl
Twitter - https://twitter.com/laura_thomas_
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/lauracthomas/
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/lauracthomas/
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