Restoring New Testament Christianity: Part 7
Note: this is part 7 of a series of articles on “Restoring New Testament Christianity”
As we continue to examine areas where we may need continual restoration, let us consider God’s emphasis on loving people and doing good. We stressed in an earlier article in this series that religion is not defined but what we don’t do as much as it is by what we do. God makes this clear in James 1:26,27 when in His definition of religion, He puts seeing to the needs of orphans and widows on an equal plane with keeping ourselves unstained by the world.
In the Bible we see that being engaged in doing good- in other words, loving, caring for, and serving those in need- has been a critical role of God’s people forever (see Deuteronomy 15:7-11; Jeremiah 22:16 among others). This is exactly what Jesus mission was as described in Luke 4:18: healing the sick, comforting the distressed, associating with the poor and outcasts of this world. He later tells us that our eternal fate is dependent on the extent to which we imitate Him in this (Matthew 25:31-46). The importance of this to Jesus is highlighted by the fact that in His last messages to His disciples prior to His death (John 13-17), He emphasizes love in some form over 25 times including John 13:34,35 where He says the world will be able to tell that we are His disciples by the degree to which we love one another.
As people all around us are suffering from disease, poverty, depression, addictions, broken families, and as they are struggling to find answers to these difficulties, where is the church- followers of Christ? Hopefully, we are not standing by observing from our comfortable seat, maybe even saddened by what we see, but rather pouring ourselves out in a life of service, offering hope to a disturbed world, and presenting Jesus as a real alternative to the present state. Church, we must continue to break out of the walls that often hold us to make a real difference in the world by manifesting the love of Jesus through good deeds of service and kindness.
Paul Harvey once said, “Instead of being fishers of men, Christians today have become keepers of the aquarium.” Let that not be true of us. While extending our hearts to God in worship is obviously important, so is extending our hand to others in service. Hebrews 13:15,16 says, “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” 1 John 3:18 says, “…let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” People don’t always need another sermon on love; sometimes they just need to see love in action, see Jesus living in us.
So, let’s evaluate ourselves. What kind of religion are we practicing? Does it extend beyond the walls of this building? Does it go beyond collective and individual worship? Hopefully, our religion manifests itself by loving as Jesus loved and doing good as we continually walk in the Light of our Lord and Savior.