The viral video begins with a college-age young man approaching a homeless man on the street. The pessimist in me assumes the young man and his videotaping cohort are up to no good. I'm expecting them to taunt the poor man, tape their escapades and replay it for their evil pleasure.
I underestimated the power of love.
The young men proceed to take the homeless man to a clothing store. There, they allow the man to choose a new pair of shoes, two pairs of jeans, several shirts and other clothes. The receipt on the video shows $151 in expenditures. Next, they rent a hotel room for the man for two nights. "I haven't slept on a bed in two months!" the man exclaimed. After showering, the man is taken to a barber shop for a fresh haircut.
After a huge dinner at an expensive steak house, the evening is topped off with dessert. The transformed homeless man can't stop talking about what a great experience he just had.
I can't think of this video without thinking about Christmas.
The initial expression of Christmas embodied love and generosity: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16). Christmas is a yearly reminder to the church of God's expectation that the church live out the expression of Christmas all throughout the year – "through love serve one another" (Galatians 5:13).
The act of service in the video – an expression of love – took the greater part of a day, cost several hundred dollars, was captured in a micro-documentary, uploaded to a digital cloud and made available for the world to see.
Not all expressions of love are so elaborate or complex. Not all are so well-planned and so well-resourced. Not all acts of service are recorded for posterity.
A simple act of service can be expressed in a matter of seconds. Service could look like a stranger running to help a single mom who has her hands full with two children and their groceries.
Often, love requires more time., like the encouraging visit at the bedside of someone in the hospital or nursing home.
The loving choice to adopt, to care for a special needs child and to persevere in marriage are expressions of love that last for a lifetime.
You and I will have many opportunities to serve one another through love. Some opportunities will be spontaneous. Many will go unnoticed. Some may even be unappreciated.
However, expressions of love are never wasted. The only wasted love is love left unshared.
How will you share God's love in service with someone this Christmas … and every day of the year?
Jesse Rincones is the executive director of the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas. Follow him @JesseRincones.