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FIRST-PERSON: Helping hands, open hearts

EULESS, Texas (BP)–The International Mission Board is seeking those with helping hands and open hearts. What can you do to help the tsunami victims? Well, the IMB is coordinating relief efforts in which you can participate. You can go directly to www.imb.org to discover your role.

Helping hands, open hearts — this attitude will spur aid toward those in need.

But in light of this great disaster, I am reminded of another great truth of the attitude of helping hands and open hearts. I am speaking now beyond the tsunami victims. I am speaking of the millions of those in need who need help just to make it through the day.

We see them everywhere we go. These are people across the desk from us at work. They are in the car with us as we drive. They are in the line at Starbucks and on the street running with us in the morning.

These people are husbands, wives, sons and daughters. They are the countless millions of people who want to see hope for living, who search to find a fresh touch of love from those around them. They are the millions who long for a word of encouragement, for a note of praise.

These are the countless millions of whom one is you, and one is me. We are those who need the love of God displayed in the daily lives of His people. This is why the Apostle Paul states without ambiguity: “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Most times when we read this text we immediately think of salvation. And indeed, the Scriptures teach us to proclaim the Good News of Jesus: that He has come to earth to forgive men’s sins. And this is what it means to be reconciled to God.

But did you know that this verse means much more than that? Who is this God of whom Paul speaks? He is the God of the Scripture, the God of love. He is the Holy Father, the One true God. And this is God’s character: a helping hand, an open heart, a loving nature (1 John 1:8). He is the God who uses His messengers to show His love to a hurting world.

You see, God wants to touch the lives of those who are hurt in life’s rocks of ruin. He wants to reach into the pain of our hearts and offer peace. How does He accomplish this act?

I would remind us all that many times, God achieves His purposes for healing and comfort through His “ambassadors” as Paul says. We are the hands and hearts who are touched by the love of God and, in turn, touch others through the love of God.

We are the ones who offer help to the hurting millions. We can be, as the well-worn statement tells us, “Jesus with skin on” to those in need around us.

The disaster relief effort for Asia is underway. What about the local relief effort in our home, at work, in the line at the coffee shop or grocery store? Have we consecrated our hands and hearts to reflect the love of God toward these?

Our challenge is to have helping hands and open hearts toward those we encounter on a daily basis. Our challenge is to be Christ’s ambassadors to a world desperately needing a touch from Him.
Claude Thomas, whose column appears each month in Baptist Press, is the former pastor of the Dallas-Fort Worth-area First Baptist Church in Euless.

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  • Claude Thomas