“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” ( John 15:12 NIV)
What does it really look like to love others as Jesus loves us? We see this important principle reiterated throughout the Bible; we are commanded to demonstrate the love of Jesus in the same way He showed it to us. What might this practice look like on a practical level?
In 2013, a survey of church members around the world was conducted under the direction of the General Conference Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research. The study was designed to assess the experiences and attitudes of church members regarding different aspects of their personal spiritual experiences and their participation in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Many questions in this survey pertained to how members engage in ministry and care for others.
We know that during His time on earth, Jesus sought out those in need so that He could attend to them. He fed the hungry, healed the sick, spent time with the outcasts of Jewish society, and ministered to those who were spiritually needy. Jesus did not surround Himself with the elite of society, but instead sought out those who were most in need of Him.
Part of loving others like Jesus did means doing those exact same things! The ASTR global survey asked members how they respond to different needs – both in their own communities, as well as throughout the world.
- Nearly half (47.1%) of respondents indicated that they feel a deep sense of responsibility for reducing pain and suffering in the world (Q3.42).
- When questioned about their giving habits, nearly one-third (30.6%) of survey respondents shared that they give a significant portion of their time and money to help other people (Q3.43).
- When asked if they care a great deal about reducing poverty in their country and throughout the world, over one-third (36.3%) of respondents replied that they “often” feel this way (Q3.44).
In Mark 2, we see the story of Jesus healing the cripple. However, before He healed the man, Jesus said, “My friend, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5). Jesus knew that meeting the man’s spiritual needs was of even greater value than meeting his physical needs. It is important that we keep this truth in mind as we interact with those in need around us. That being said, what are the ways in which our church members try to help others with their spiritual needs?
When asked if they talk to other people about their faith, about half (50.3%) of members surveyed shared that they often do so (Q3.49), while 28% stated that they often help others with their religious questions and struggles (Q3.40). Additionally, when asked if they feel God’s presence in their relationships with other people, over half (54.0%) responded that they often do (Q3.44).
If we truly follow Christ’s example and love others as He did, we must step outside our comfort zone in every facet of life to reach others. Our personal faith should find ways for its practical application. By doing this, we are able to follow the instructions given to followers of Jesus by our Lord, Himself. It is not enough to feel a deep sense of responsibility to reduce suffering in the world or to talk to others about our religion, we need to help those who suffer or struggle for their survival or faith.
Speaking of spirituality, the questions discussed above are part of the “Faith Maturity Scale”—keep an eye out for our next blog where we will discuss this scale and other factors that help us measure spiritual maturity.
To learn more about this study and its findings, check out the Church Member Survey division reports.
Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry
Published by ASTR