To Serve is to Love

Be nice to your brother. Don't gossip. Clean up after yourself. Help your friends. Treat your neighbor as yourself.

I grew up with the Golden Rule in mind, and I suspect you did, too. "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you" (Matthew 7:12, NIV). This makes a fairly easy lesson for children young and old to grasp.

Further on in Scripture, however, the lessons become more difficult, especially for the adult-minded. Consider what Jesus said: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another," (John 13:34–35, NIV). We can all probably agree with that in principle. But how easy is it to really put that into practice — to love the neighbor who never mows the lawn; or the client who shows up late continually; or the annoying coworker who doesn't pull his or her own weight?

I'm sure we can all think of many people who are hard to love. But, what if we thought of that homeless person on the corner as our brother? The heroin addict as our sister? The murderer on the news as our father or mother? Thinking with love can dramatically change our perspective and make John 13 an easier command to comprehend.

It's that kind of perspective shift that's transforming Adventist Health.

I am especially glad this annual health care edition of the GLEANER is focused on Sacred Work. In 2007, the health-care system introduced the term at San Joaquin Community Hospital in Bakersfield, California. Since then, the concept has caught on rapidly. Simply, Sacred Work means expressing God's love in practical ways through everyday work. It means loving coworkers, patients, community members and oneself. Sacred Work means love.

I believe this work is integral to the very ministry of Christ who, in Ellen White's description, "ministered to people as one who desired their best good," (The Desire of Ages, page 151). She held His method of ministry out as an example of Sacred Work for us.

In our Adventist hospitals, this work of love often manifests itself through service — the mundane task done well, the extra mile walked, the troubled soul comforted. Our special feature this month is all about those stories of service and love. As you read through them, I encourage you to consider personal applications to your own life and the principles of Galatians 5:13 — "By love, serve one another."

October 01, 2009 / Editorial
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Max Torkelsen II, North Pacific Union Conference president and Adventist Health board of director's vice chairman