Summary: Sometimes in all the Christian rhetoric, we forget the simplicity of what following Christ looks like. "Good Works" has been given a bad name because they are viewed as a contrast to faith and grace. However, once you get past the elementary teaching of
The Law of Christ
Lately, the ladies of our church have had a couple of opportunities to help some folks. If you are not already aware, some of our ladies are cooking meals for Peter and Theda Kempenar on a regular basis. Also, they supplied a good bunch of sandwiches for Teri Lee Theakston’s funeral. Good job ladies. Of course, these aren’t the first acts of kindness this church has shown. Not by far. Some of these acts have been personal, even private, an individual helping out an individual. And some have been corporate and public, like paying me to help out the ROC. These make me so proud. I got to thinking one day, why? Why am I so proud? Then I realized, because good works is the culmination of what I preach. Funny that I hadn’t really realized that before.
Now I am teacher. My goal as a pastor/teacher is to facilitate people becoming mature and active Christians. My primary tool in accomplishing this goal is words. I study, I think, I listen, I pray...then I speak. But for all my talking, I ultimately want action. I want action that communicates a mature, active Christian. I want to see people praying. I want to see people praising. I want to see people changing. I want to see people growing. But, above all this, I want to see people loving. Giving, sacrificing, serving, helping, ministering. This is the heart of Christianity. This is the way we glorify God. This is the way we worship. This is the way we follow Christ.
II. The law of Christ in one line.
One of the things about Christianity that makes me crazy is that there is so much to think about all at once. There is so much to believe, so much to value, so much to do. There is so much theology, so many concepts, so many facets. I love this as a student, but as a follower, it is sometimes overwhelming. But sometimes there is a passage of scripture that says it all. These really help to take all the facets and put them in a way that we can understand.
This is why John 3:16 is so popular. It just sums up so much of the gospel all at once. Another one is the famous great commandments passage:
Mk 12:30-31 - 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (NIV)
It helps to know that all the commandments ever made by God could be summed up with only these two. However, the problem with summing so much up with so little is that it becomes vague. What I like to do is to make little one liners like this to sum up how to do the one just summed up. So you sum up the diamond, and then sum up each facet of the diamond. So, if you want to know, what does it mean to love your neighbour as yourself, here it is summed up:
Ga 6:2 - 2Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (NIV)
III. What we were made for
What does Jesus want from us as followers? He wants us to help people. How important is this? Listen to this:
Eph 2:8-10 - 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast.
Verses 8 and 9 are great for summing up how we are saved. I use them often but let’s look at verse 10...
10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (NIV)
Here is another translation...
Eph 2:10 - 10It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others. (The Living Bible)
God has saved us and made us new in Christ so that we can help people.
This is what salvation is for. It is not just to rescue you, but to make you into something useful.
Listen to it this way...
2 Ti 2:20-21 - 20In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 21If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. (NIV)
God changes us so that we can help people.