Love Where You Live

LUKE 10:33-34
But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.

Recognizing that the church is a family, united by faith in Christ Jesus, we embrace the fact that God has kept us in the world for a specific purpose. Jesus prayed to his Father saying: “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (John 17:18). This means that everyone who has been saved by Jesus has also been sent by Jesus. And since he came “proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people” (Matthew 4:23), we make it our mission to push back the suffering in this world, whether physical or spiritual, whether pain experienced in this life or punishment in the next—and we do this wherever God, in his gracious sovereignty, has placed us.

Risen Hope refers to this act as “loving where we live.” Although we should love all that is good in the place and culture to which God has seen fit to bring us, our focus with this statement is people. We are called to love the people who live, work, and play near us—those to whom Jesus refers as our neighbors (Luke 10:25-37). Obviously we should love those in the family of faith (John 13:34-35; Galatians 6:10), but we are also called to love the world (Acts 26:28-29; Colossians 4:5; Romans 12:14), and we do this in word and deed because that’s what Jesus did (Luke 24:19; Colossians 3:17). We love in word because the gospel is the only hope for anyone to experience full and lasting joy. We love in deed because our hearts break when we look at the physical pain experienced across the world because of sin.

Loving in word is the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and next to this any other kind of help—though necessary and good—is infinitely secondary. The gospel is the profound truth that God in Christ Jesus has reconciled the world to himself through the cross, and now forgiveness and freedom from sin is offered to every human being in this world. Through faith in Christ this reconciliation is appropriated at a personal level, and the believer is adopted into the family of God and given the Holy Spirit as a seal of his future redemption when Christ returns. We are called to be witnesses of this message and its Savior (Acts 1:8) until the full number of our brothers and sisters is brought in from every tribe, tongue, people and nation (Revelation 5:9).

Loving in deed is the action that believers commit themselves to in order to push back pain and suffering in this world and bring joy into the lives of others, ultimately by pointing to Christ and the gospel. The charity expressed here is directed toward other believers (Acts 4:32-34), those who are defenseless (James 1:27), and all those suffering in this world, whether physically (Luke 10:25-37) or spiritually (Ephesians 6:12). For the Christian, these kinds of deeds are not exclusive to those who are friends or simply neutral to us, but even to our very enemies, those who hate and persecute us (Matthew 5:43-48). And the believer’s good deeds should never be done to draw attention to themselves but rather to the very source of their deeds, their loving Father in heaven, who rightly deserves all the glory (Matthew 5:16).

Loving where we live is expressed in a variety of ways at Risen Hope. Within the church we participate in Groups, smaller gatherings of believers that meet throughout the week to fellowship within the body of Christ, sharing deep relationships while enjoying God together. Groups allow us to love each other in both word and deed: praying, encouraging, and growing in our love for Christ. In addition to Groups, numerous opportunities to volunteer and provide resources for both local and international ministries are available throughout the year. The main focus of Risen Hope is the local community it serves: Kingsgate, a collection of neighborhoods within the northeastern corner of Kirkland, Washington. While we are glad to actively serve and love every community our people find themselves in, Kingsgate is home to many of the people of Risen Hope and it is where we gather every Sunday, placing it and its people at the heart of our local ministry.

At Risen Hope, this is what it means to love where you live.