Once President John F. Kennedy said “ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country?” I’ve been considering these words more and more these day. I’ve also been considering the words of Pope Francis who is encouraging us not to condemn people but rather to pray for others. The Bible teaches us to even pray for our enemies.
Often, we encounter people who do not think as we think, who do not believe what we believe. The strife and friction of such an environment will generally breed malcontent, and at the extreme peak, violence of the heart, tongue and fist can arise. This should not be, if we really desire to please the Lord.
Almost daily I encounter questions about what to do about abortion and issues of human sexuality. The issues are presented so forcefully that if we didn’t know better, we would think that these are the only two issues plaguing human kind. Yet, we know that people are starving all over the world. People are homeless in our communities. People are sick and dying. So we have much work to do, and we will not accomplish or witness transformation until we allow God to touch our own hearts.
So now I find myself asking not what to do about abortion, or human sexuality, or poverty, or sickness and disease, but rather how I can serve those who are troubled or in pain on any level for any reason. In an effort to truly serve, please and love God, I am struggling to serve others. I find much wisdom, comfort and direction in this Bible passage from 2 Timothy chapter two:
24-25 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.
The truth is that God loves us. Our Creator wants what is best for us. To prove this, God sent us Jesus to share our burdens and cancel our sin debt.
John 3:16 – The Message (MSG)
16-18 “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.
Because God has rescued me from the errors of my ways, including the abortions, divorces, and so many other sins, I know that I would be the biggest of hypocrites if I would try to condemn and judge others who are struggling with life’s issues, no matter what they are. I am discovering that people won’t listen to me if I pretend to be perfect, and reach out to them with a condescending message. They want Agape Love. They want Truth. They want Jesus. They do not want or need our phony piety.
Of course there is a place for protests, for demonstrations, for boldly proclaiming that sin is not the way. Awareness comes when people are informed, educated and activated with messages that expose darkness. Yet, it isn’t the method that matters so much as it is the motive by which we are working. Do we want to see people’s lives and hearts transformed? Or do we just want to make a point and prove that our message is right? Do we want people to see how bad they are, or do we want them to know and experience how good God is?
If you, like I sometimes am, are a “Hammer for Justice,” watch your motives. I can deliver some pretty strong words sometimes; especially when I’m on the battlefield, because after all I am a soldier, a warrior. And yet my greatest weapons are faith, prayer and Agape Love.
Hundreds of years ago, the world was in bad shape; just as it is now. Human secularism isn’t new. Evil looms large in our lives, so we must resist. Yet, we cannot be without hope. We have a common shield, which is faith. Of course that faith works by Agape Love, and is dead without action. So we must resist evil, we must promote truth, and we will prevail. We must remember the principles that work, and they are founded upon eternal truth.
So, rather than embracing a sense of panic and defense, let’s go on the offence. Why not try asking “what can I do to help” rather than “what can I do to convince?” Do you know someone who is living a lifestyle that doesn’t line up with your doctrine? Maybe that kind word, that gentle smile, that truth spoken in love will do more to reach them than your loudest warning.