Tuesday, June 6, 2017
“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” ― John Wesley
I got an email the other day from a man my age who complained that the world he lives in today is not the one he knew growing up. The world never is. There has never been a time when there was no hunger, no crime, no war, no oppression, no intolerance, no poverty, no disease, or no natural disasters. However, there have also always been times of peace, times of healing, and times of progress where ways to save lives and protect people have been created. It is the way things are.
Jesus knew this and gave us tools that He himself demonstrated and taught so that no matter what, we would know what God and goodness required of us. Forgiveness, love, no hatred, faith, the power of prayer, caring for others, looking for the good, learning that we could change the way we were to become better people. He gave us examples of bad people who did change like Zacchaeus, good people who loved money and possessions more than God and couldn't change, people who would give their very lives to show their love, people who would leave everything to follow Him, and people who would dedicate their lives to the service of others to show that they understood what Christ wanted us be.
You don’t find the word “preach” in the Gospels, but you will find the word “teach” in all its forms all over them. Christ gave us simple examples like the difference between building a house on rock and building a house on sand. Examples like storing up treasures on earth or storing them up in heaven. Examples of turning the other cheek and not returning evil for evil. He lived and taught love, kindness, caring, forgiveness, and carrying another’s burden. Then there was His willingness to suffer great hurt and death for us, people He never knew. Christ took twelve disciples (including one that didn’t turn out well) and changed the world forever. Now, over 2,000 years later, those few followers have grown to over two billion and spread all over the world.
Sadly, many who grew up in the church knowing His teachings have been seduced away from the truth, the way, and the life by modern society, by wanting to have more stuff, and by thinking of themselves first. If you want a better world, you have to create it by living the same way Jesus taught you to live. It isn’t that we don’t know how to do that—it’s that we don’t want to do that, it's inconvenient, it interferes with what we think is happiness. However, there is no place on earth where you cannot find those who do live as Christ called them to live. They are all around you wherever you are. Maybe they are keeping their lights under bushels, but they are there. If you are one of the lucky ones who know the warmth and love that Christ gives, who don’t "believe" in God—but "know" Him personally, then it is up to you to let others know. One of the best definitions of evangelism I have ever heard is simply one beggar telling another beggar where the bread is. For those of you who know where the bread is, it’s time to tell others. Not tomorrow, not next week, not after vacation, or after this or that gets done—the time is now, the person is you. You who are loved must love--even the unlovable. This is who we should be, and it is who I try to be every day, no matter what. Obedient and available every day is what God asks of us. Can we do no less? As you can see from the picture at the right, the urge to help is from God and knows no boundaries of age or place. We who have not only been given the Kingdom but have seen, felt, tasted, and touched it should be the first to share it. Don’t you think that’s what would make our Lord smile? You can change the world—your world and the world of those around you and those in need. If you can, and Christ calls you to do it, shouldn’t you give it a shot? I know I’m not going to live for too many more years, but none of us knows how long we have, so we should live every day as if it was our last and as if it was the first of many more. Christianity is not a noun, it is an active verb. In the famous words of Jean Luc-Picard (science fiction character), “Make it so.”