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Created To Do Good Works

November 11, 2007

Jay Guin has just completed a series on his blog titled “What’s Wrong With How We Do Church.” I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the entire series. It is well worth a careful, prayerful reading. But today I want to focus on what Jay calls the Jesus piece. Jay wrote:

You see, we’re often guilty of limiting our walk with Jesus to good moral behavior and sound doctrine, and certainly these are important to Jesus. But Jesus spent most of his time on earth preaching the good news and helping people in need our of selfless compassion.

Reading the gospels, we repeatedly see Jesus healing people and showing compassion to crowds. When he saw people in need, he cared, and he did something about it. That was the word on the street about Jesus — he cared, in a way they had not seen before. That was one of the main reasons crowds came to him.

Mat 4:23-24 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them.

Jesus healed people because he had compassion on them. By healing them, he showed us the compassion of God. That is how he drew the large crowds. Compassion was not only the tool Jesus used to reach the people– it was also how he taught his disciples to reach those around them:

Matt 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Similarly, the apostles taught the Christian church to reach out to the world around them through good deeds of compassionate service:

1Pe 2:12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

We are called to be like Jesus. That includes imitating his compassion and service. Compassionate service was the reputation of Jesus during his ministry. In like manner, the early church was well known for such deeds as caring for the sick and orphans. What are we known for?.

Doing good works is not just a good idea for Christians. It is our mission.

Eph 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Tit 2:11-14 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Jesus taught us about compassionate service through parables. The parable of the good Samaritan illustrates the kind of compassion Jesus wants from his followers. But the parable that brings home the importance of that compassion is the parable of the sheep and the goats. There we learn that showing compassion on the needy ones around us is not just a good idea, but a matter of salvation. Those who serve others will be invited into an eternal inheritance. Those who do not serve others will be cast into the eternal fire. According to the words of Jesus, our fate on Judgment Day hangs on this: Did we meet the needs of less fortunate people around us? Did we? Are we?

Jesus was not talking about participating in a program where we serve the needy at a scheduled time in an organized program. Jesus didn’t do it that way. Rather, he is calling us to serve as a natural part of our daily lives. He is calling on us to be something that leads to us doing something. That is the message of the parable of the good Samaritan. When we see the stranger in need, do we stop our scheduled activities and serve?

We don’t like to talk about that. But we need to talk about it. Our churches may be suffering because we pay little heed to this teaching. One premise of Jay’s series is that churches are not meeting the spiritual needs of mature Christians, precisely because we are not calling them to serve others. Jay wrote:

I think the reason so many Christians, especially mature Christians, get dissatisfied with church is that most churches aren’t doing what they were called to do. They’re doing some of it, but not all of it.

And

Notice that in all the practical wisdom found in scripture–lessons on how to live as a Christian–very little is said about inviting your friends to church. But there are dozens of verses about doing good deeds for others.

I don’t know why we duck this issue. When we do serve, it feels great!

Eph 4:11-13 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

It is the duty of church leadership to prepare God’s people for these works of service. Those who have reached maturity, who have attained the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, will be doing those works of service, like Christ did. Our churches have a long way to go. And as church leaders, we need to lead the way in compassionate service. We must do it, for the sake of the church and for the sake of our own souls. We have work to do.

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3 comments

  1. Alan,I believe this is one of your best post that you have done. I believe that God has created all of us to do good works. Some misunderstand that good works don’t save that we are save by the grace of God. As Eph. 2:10 He has prepared in advance for us to do. Wow. Thinking about blows my mind. God thought the good works he wanted me to in advance. I also believe the God wants me to look for those ways in which I can make a difference for the kingdom that aren’t my aren’t my talents so I can grow in my faith. Agian, brother, excellent post.Thanks for challenging us for us to do good works! Alan, your blog has been such a blessing to me. Keep up the wonderful posts brother. God bless you as we strive for Christian unity! 🙂


  2. Amen


  3. great article….except no one ever really explains how you can “stop your scheduled activity” to serve when your “scheduled activity” is your paid employment. If I’m running to get to work, I only stop if the person seems to be in life-threatening conditions. Living in a big city I encounter many people a day begging in the streets. If I stopped for each one, I’d do nothing else all week and be out of a job real fast. I don’t know if I’m the only one with this dilemma…while I try to be sensitive at all times, it really helps me to schedule my “serving” for set times during the week.



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