As Jesus’ story about the merciful Samaritan suggests, being kind only to those in our immediate community falls short of Christian love. We are called to love strangers as well as neighbors, and to seek the wellbeing of the wider world.
Ben and his friends were gathered one Saturday morning and trying to decide what to do with the bright, sunny day that lay ahead of them. After the group had considered several suggestions and failing to settle on anything, someone reminded the others of the emphasis in their science classes over the past few weeks on creation care. Their Christian school regularly asked students to reflect on a set of discipleship practices, and the science teachers had been helping students to explore the Christian responsibility to care responsibly for the natural world that God creates. “What if we went to the beach,” Ben suggested, “and spent at least some of the time picking up trash and just helping clean up?” That seemed to the others a worthwhile use of time, and so that was how the Saturday morning was spent.
Maddy is used to her school emphasizing that faith is not just a private matter, it is meant to push us into service and bringing good to the wider world. She had been involved in some service projects in the area around her school. As spring break approached, she carried this emphasis over into her spring break plans. This also connected to another school emphasis, which focused on learning to use digital technology as an instrument for good and not just a source of entertainment. She explained, “for spring break I’m going to California with a bunch of my friends and we decided to focus our trip on service, so I looked up all kinds of organizations in Southern California, where we’re going, and I was able to email them all and get responses from them, so we’re going to do a bunch of service projects over spring break, all using my laptop and emailing.”