I love Red Flannel Day. There is something special about a community that comes together to celebrate underwear! Every year I am amazed by the thousands of people who show up downtown—even when the weather is a little sour—to display their red flannel town pride. And each year as I walk up and down Main Street on Red Flannel Day, two thoughts run through my mind: one, “Look at all the people who live in and around Cedar Springs.” And two, “I wonder how many of these people haven’t yet experienced the life-changing love of God?” The sobering reality is that most of our neighbors don’t know the Lord. I think on Red Flannel Day that realization hits home for me more than any other day. It breaks my heart really. But it does more than that. It also forges in me a desire to do everything I possibly can to point every person I possibly can to Christ. I can’t tell you how much I long to see that sea of red that amasses the first weekend in October find new life in Jesus.
Jesus taught us that life is all about loving God and loving others (Mark 12:28-31). Those are the two most important things in life. And one isn’t more important than the other. They go hand in hand. We can’t love God fully if we don’t love our neighbors as ourselves.
Have you ever thought about what loving others as you love yourself really means? It means you pay as much attention to the needs of others as you do to your own needs. The same principle applies to the church. God wants us to be just as concerned for those outside the church as we are for those inside the church. He wants us to take care of those beyond our walls as much as we take care of our own.
Galatians 5:13-14 says, “You have been called to live in freedom–not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (NLT).
We haven’t been set free to serve ourselves; God has saved us to serve others. How do you love your neighbor as yourself? You do it serving others. God says, “You’ve been set free to serve. I have freed you up to serve your neighbors.”
In Romans 15:2 it says, “Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” (Msg).
There’s a great question at the end of that verse that can make a huge difference in somebody’s life, “How can I help?” I want to challenge you this week to ask somebody that question. As Christians, we need to always be asking ourselves, “Who can we serve?” “How can we help?”
1 Peter 4:10 teaches, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (NIV).
God has made all of us different. Now why did He do that? God wants to use our differences to make a difference. I can’t change this world on my own, and you can’t change the world on your own. God didn’t design it that way. But working together, with our different gifts and abilities, God can use us to change the world.
Red Flannel has come and gone, but the thousands of people who visited are still here. They live around the corner and down the street and even next door. They are our neighbors. And the God we serve says, “I want you to serve them. I want you to show them My love. I want you to love them. Ask them how you can help. Use the gifts I’ve given you to serve your neighbors.” Just think what God could do and the number of people who would come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior if we took this to heart and started loving our neighbors as ourselves. Maybe one day downtown will be packed shoulder to shoulder with men and women wearing red and celebrating what God has done in their lives. That would be awesome!
Pastor Barry Briggs
The Springs Free Methodist Church
135 N. Grant, Cedar Springs