"Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?" Acts 4:25
What a crazy two weeks it has been! We have been faced with times of joy and with times of sorrow; with times of dancing and with times of mourning; with times of peace and with times of war (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11). And that has just been within our family. When we look at the world outside of our protected four-walls, our hearts break. They break for every single life that has been taken, for every family member who received a phone call telling them their loved one would not be coming home.
My natural response to the brokenness in the world, and all the pain and suffering, is to say to myself, "but what can I do?" This usually results in feelings of apathy and discontentment. I am disconnected to most tragedy in the world, so why should I care? Really now, what can I do? And here you have the mindset of the modern day Christian: apathy coupled with, "I guess I'll go read my bible." Clarification: reading the bible is not bad, but reading it and doing nothing in response is.
A few days ago I opened my bible and happened upon the parable of the talents. I've read this parable several times before but have always been a little confused. Why was Jesus so hard on the man who kept the talents given him safe? Then something clicked inside of my heart and mind: God has given us the greatest gift known to man! Himself! God in the flesh, Jesus the risen Christ. The Gospel, the living word of God. Far be it from us that we would take this gift and hide it away, that we would play it 'safe'.
Jesus tells a story, a story of three men who were given five, two, and a single talent respectively. The first two men invest their master's deposit and return with more. The third man takes the single talent given him and buries it because he is 'afraid'. In Matthew 25, verse 26, Jesus tells us the master's response to this in-action:
"But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 25:26-30
Wow. . .
Harsh much? Jesus doesn't beat around the bush. He calls us to risk it all for the gospel. This realization has been extremely convicting for me. What has my response been to the gospel? The concept reminds me in many ways of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and theologian during World War II. Bonhoeffer said this: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act." What action have I taken when I see injustice in the world? My answer more often than nought has been, sadly: nothing. Even worse, currently when I hear of another shooting, terrorist attack, or injustice, my response has been apathetic at best.
So what does taking action as a Christian who believes in the cross of Jesus look like in 2016? This is the question I need to be asking myself daily. This is the question we all need to be asking daily. Here are some everyday calls-to-action that I believe are based on Paul's teachings about Jesus and the early Church.
We must, pray. I am not talking about the "I'm praying for you" Christian here, I am referring to the Acts 4:23-31 Christian.
We must, get involved with our local church, one that teaches the true gospel of Jesus. (serve and attend) Acts 2:42-47
We must, find a group of people within our church that we can meet with weekly, but we must not stop there. . . we must serve our community as a whole and preach the true gospel of Jesus. Acts 2:42-47, Acts 4:32-35, Romans 12:3-8,
If we don't know why we believe what we believe, sharing the gospel will be extremely difficult. We must live compelled to share the wondrous work of tho Lord, as did King David. The entire book of Psalms was dedicated to this purpose: "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." Psalm 139:14
Try telling your best friend that they should go try out a great new pizza place you've never been to. . . doesn't work.
We may think that living life with other believers is optional but it's not.
"But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end." Hebrews 3:13-14
How can our response move from apathy to action? The nations of the world rage and its peoples plot in vain because like all of us, they are lost in sin. Simply put, we are all in desperate need of salvation and the saving grace of Jesus of Nazareth. Whatever God has called each of us to uniquely, we should pursue with unrelenting passion. We can't share the gospel if we're running one direction while is God is calling us in the opposite path. We cannot share the immense love the Father of the universe has lavished on us unless we believe it ourselves. Deeply. Passionately.
Out of this fellowship of believers naturally flows the truth of the cross and the magnitude of His grace! May we as followers of Jesus be moved to action through His word and the fellowship of believers. May the truth of the gospel change the world. The world will not be transformed through our intelligent thoughts and convincing arguments, but through the Holy Spirit, which is Christ in us.
May we be moved to action.