Saturday, October 31, 2009

Why We Serve

My friends, what good is it to say you have faith, when you don't do anything to show that you really do have faith? Can that kind of faith save you?

-- James 2:14

In 1942, the U.S. Government premiered the first in a series of seven films called Why We Fight. Produced by legendary Hollywood director Frank Capra, these powerful motion pictures were meant to educate our armed forces and the general public about the causes of World War II and the principles on which the nation was fighting it.

As Christ-followers, we’re also facing many powerful enemies. Just turn on the television, go to the movies or pick up a magazine. It’s not hard to find themes that actively attack Christianity and those who are too “narrow-minded” and “intolerant” to believe that every action, lifestyle and preference is relative. Our society has even fallen to the point where the word “Christian” has become an insult to too many people who just don’t know any better (and unfortunately, to too many who do).

But it’s the world – not Jesus and His teachings – that’s upside down. For many of today’s celebrities, musicians and sports stars, breaking the law and going to jail is actually a career move. But if a Christ-follower -- real or in name only -- slips up and does something wrong, the words hypocrite and judgmental quickly follow. It’s in these dark times that we need to remember Jesus’ admonition to some of His earliest followers – those who daily faced much more than an unflattering newspaper article or slanderous motion picture:

“Make your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven.”
What does Jesus mean by light? It’s really that “spark” or inner Power that God grants each Christ-follower for demonstrating His goodness through their words and actions. It might be shown by helping an elderly neighbor by running a much-needed errand. Or volunteering to manage a co-worker’s project when he or she is struggling to finish an earlier assignment. Or it might even involve cleaning up a community park or visiting residents at a local assisted living center.

For Christ-followers, the question isn’t why we fight. After all, Jesus already won the battle against evil – and even death – when He died on the cross and came back to life three days later. It was all predicted in the Old Testament centuries earlier. Instead, we might ask why we serve.

The answer is that we’re to be Jesus’ hands and feet on earth while we wait for His return or that day when He calls us back home (whichever comes first). Until then, God wants us to help prepare His kingdom by making the most of the different gifts and talents He’s given each follower. And let’s not forget the other part of the equation: serving others makes us more like our Teacher, Jesus. We’re always to follow the Leader:
“In the same way, the Son of Man did not come to be served,” Jesus explained. “He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many people."
When we serve, it’s not about us – it’s instead about Him and His creation. So as Christ-followers, let’s turn our faith into action by accepting Jesus’ invitation to help brighten a dark, dying world that’s so much in need of guidance, truth and love.

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