Pastor’s Corner: Love your neighbor as yourself

Mike Sutcliffe

The greatest commandment, according to Jesus (Matthew 22:37), is to love God with all your heart, soul and mind. Like it is the second, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). Thinking about these wise words and looking at Sauk Valley, I see an amazing opportunity to truly live up to this commandment.

I recently had a meeting with a representative of a local nonprofit, and I learned some really sad and enlightening things. Rising homelessness, devastating mental illnesses and growing drug usage are among the issues our community is dealing with. For a growing number of citizens in our community, these challenges – homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse – are not just statistics; they are overwhelming realities that are destroying their last bit of hope.

It’s clear that although governmental efforts are necessary, they are not sufficient to heal the deep wounds of our society. What this community needs is Jesus working through his people to bring his good news back to the Sauk Valley. This summer, I am praying for a revival to begin right here in Dixon and spread like wildfire across Illinois and beyond.

The story of Nehemiah in the Bible inspires us today. Nehemiah, a cupbearer to the king in a foreign land, was moved by the desolation of his hometown, Jerusalem. Despite his comfortable position, he chose to face the monumental task of rebuilding the city’s walls. His love for God and his people drove him to action, and through his leadership and prayer, he ignited a communitywide restoration project (Nehemiah 1-6). Nehemiah’s story is a powerful example of how deep faith and love for one’s neighbors can transform a community.

Like Nehemiah, we are called not merely to be bystanders but to be active participants in God’s work. What could spark a revival in Dixon and beyond? It starts with each of us embracing God’s love and extending that love to our neighbors.

As your neighbor and fellow servant in Christ, I invite you to join me in this mission. Here are seven simple, actionable ways we can be the hands and feet of Jesus in the Sauk Valley, actively demonstrating his love:

  1. Bake cookies or share a meal: Show kindness by making cookies or a meal for a neighbor. While doing so, share a message of love and community that Jesus taught us.
  2. Visit the elderly: Spend time at a local senior center, offering companionship and prayer and sharing stories that highlight the comfort and hope offered by Christ.
  3. Park cleanup: Organize or join efforts to clean up a local park. Use this time to reflect on God’s creation and our role in preserving it, fostering discussions about our creator’s love.
  4. Assist a neighbor in need: Whether it’s helping with a home repair or offering to mow a lawn, show God’s love through acts of service, opening doors for conversations about faith.
  5. Volunteer in children’s programs: Help with local church or community children’s programs or child care, teaching kids about Jesus through stories and activities.
  6. Donate groceries: Buy extra groceries to donate to those in need or directly to a struggling neighbor, accompanied by a note of encouragement and scripture.
  7. Support local nonprofits: Volunteer your time or resources to nonprofits that align with Christian values, ensuring your actions help spread the gospel.

Although these acts of kindness meet immediate physical needs, they serve a greater purpose – opening doors to discuss and demonstrating the profound spiritual truths of knowing Christ as lord and savior. This mission is about more than just addressing the symptoms of societal issues; it is about fostering a community where every individual can thrive. It’s about restoring faith where it has been lost and building bridges where gaps have widened.

As your neighbor and fellow servant in Christ, I invite you to join me in this mission. Let us be the hands and feet of Jesus in Sauk Valley, showing love not only in words but in deeds. Let us not only pray fervently for revival but also work diligently toward it, trusting that God will multiply our efforts.

Together, we can witness the restoration of hope and the rebirth of our community. Together, we can demonstrate that the greatest force for change is the love of God lived out through us, his people.

  • Mike Sutcliffe is president of the Dixon Area Christian Ministers Association and is the pastor of Corner Fringe Ministries Dixon.
Have a Question about this article?