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Lessons From an Agnostic New York Times Journalist

Our church is by no means the only community of Christians who turn their hearts and lives toward the least of these as a way of life. In fact, there are millions of Christians worldwide who are doing the same every single day. The mercy and justice impulse among God’s people is so strong, that secular journalist Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times has written at length about it. Based on his personal observations while covering disasters and poverty all over the world, Kristof said the following:

In reporting on poverty, disease and oppression… [Christians] are disproportionately likely to donate 10 percent of their incomes to charities… More important, go to the front lines, at home or abroad, in the battles against hunger, malaria, prison rape, obstetric fistula, human trafficking or genocide, and some of the bravest people you meet are… Christians… I’m not particularly religious myself, but I stand in awe of those I’ve seen risking their lives in this way—and it sickens me to see that faith mocked at New York cocktail parties.

The reason why Christians all over the world invest their lives so sacrificially is simple: They have come to believe that God’s gifts and graces are never meant to be hoarded, but are always meant to be shared.

Whether we have little or plenty, life in Christ plus nothing else makes us the wealthiest people in the world. We who are in Christ are rich in his saving grace, rich in the status he has given us as beloved daughters and sons, rich in assurance that nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from his love, rich in the knowledge that he has plans to prosper us and not to harm us—and in light of all this, we are called to be rich in the overflow of love and good deeds (2 Corinthians 8:9; Galatians 3:29; Titus 3:5; Romans 8:31-39; Jeremiah 29:11-13; Hebrews 10:24).

As we often remind ourselves and each other, the gospel boils down to basic math:

Everything minus Jesus equals nothing.

Jesus plus nothing equals everything.

And if these “equations” are true, then we have nothing to lose when we give ourselves away and everything to gain. In the end, the greatest beneficiaries—even more than the ones who do the receiving—are the ones who do the giving.

We lose our lives when we try to hold onto them, and we gain our lives when we lay them down in love and service to God and neighbor (Luke 9:24).

This article originally appeared here and is used by permission.