It’s no secret that we live in a hard world today. We can read through the Bible about bloody battles that cost thousands of lives. The Israelites turned to idols and deities of other cultures many times. They dealt with a hard world too. But in our age of social media bullying and war with advanced technology, it seems that there’s no way their trials could compare to ours.
But there is a commonality between the Israelites in the Old Testament and our calling today: we are commanded to obey our God. One particular command has been weighing on my heart, so much so that I shared it in a recent volunteer meeting at church before our services. Good works, despite the difficulty and hardship, are commanded to us.
After being away from my ministry for six weeks, I returned with a fresh perspective. It is something that only comes from removing the mundane from our lives. This fresh outlook allowed me to notice things that I may not have when caught up in the everyday issues.
Upon returning to my church to work, I noticed people who had been new to our campus in the fall walking up to others and hugging them as friends. I noticed people coming to the foyer for prayer. I saw one family intentionally walk past all of the volunteers without making eye contact. Why did it impress on me so much that I noticed these things? Because it was a startling reminder of why, as Christians, we do what we do on Sunday. I asked the volunteers in our meeting the question “Why are you here?”.
Why do we do the “Christian duty” on Sunday mornings? Is it to make friends, or feel good about ourselves? To check the box off for the week that we served? It’s ok to admit any of these. We are human, selfish and imperfect. In Ephesians there is a message about why we were created.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10 NIV
The Living Bible translation provides another wording that I love:
It is God himself who has made us what we are in Jesus; long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives helping others.
Ephesians 2:10 LB
Good works. Helping others. These are the things God specifically made plans for us to do. I like to visualize a handwritten plan that illustrates each of us and the actions we should take for His Kingdom. Good works are our exterior actions in contrast to our inner qualities. In the Old Testament Proverbs says
To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Again in the New Testament in Titus we find:
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age
We are to focus on God’s charge to do good works, His works. These verses are likely ones you have heard time and time again. But when we look at them through the lens of a question such as “Why are you serving on Sunday?”, it changes the flavor up. Suddenly it becomes instructions rather than a reminder of qualities we know we should possess. The instructions clearly showed me what a crucial piece I had been missing. It is not just the good Christian thing to do good works, but it is at the very core. Jesus is love. We are to do His good works.