What does God expect of us?
The following is taken from the book “The Hole in Our Gospel’ written by the president of World Vision, Richard Stearns. It speaks much better than I can of our need to make a difference. I have expressed my thoughts on this topic in other posts: What is on Your Menu for the Christmas Meal? and Poverty – It’s Real!
“It is hard to read the headlines each day without a growing sense of alarm. We hear about terrorism, ethnic and religious tensions, wars and conflicts, corrupt governments, massive natural disasters, climate change, nuclear intimidation, and even child trafficking and slavery. Our post 9/11 world seems both frightening and threatening, and the majority of us struggle to understand it, let alone do something about it. The world’s problems just seem too big and too hard for most of us; it’s so much easier to retreat from them than to take them on. On Sunday morning, safe in our church pews and surrounded by friends, it can be all too easy to leave the world’s violence, suffering, turmoil outside–out of sight, out of mind.
But wait–as Christians, are we really given the option of turning away from the world’s problems? Does God permit that?
The ideas behind The Hole in Our Gospel is quite simple. It’s basically the belief that being a Christian, or follower of Jesus Christ, requires much more than just having a personal and transforming relationship with God. It also entails a public and transforming relationship with the world.
If your personal faith in Christ has no positive outward expression, then your faith–and mine–has a hole in it.
Embracing the gospel, or good news, proclaimed by Jesus is so much more than a private transaction between God and us. The gospel itself was born of God’s vision of a changed people, challenging and transforming the prevailing values and practices of our world. Jesus called the resulting new world order the “kingdom of God” and said that it would become a reality through the lives and deeds of His followers. Jesus asked a great deal of those who followed Him. He expected much more from them than just believing He was God’s Son. He challenged them to embrace radically different standards, to love their neighbors and their enemies, to forgive those who wronged them, to lift up the poor and downtrodden, to share what they had with those who had little, and to live lives of sacrifice. Then He likened their effect on the world around them to that which light has on darkness. Light dispels darkness; it reverses it.
Those who choose to follow Christ have struggled since the very beginning to live differently in a world that often rejects their values and mocks their belies. The temptation to retreat from it and to keep our faith private has befallen every generation of Christians.
Yet we are the carriers of the gospel–the good news that it was meant to change the world. Belief is not enough. Worship is not enough. Personal morality is not enough. And Christian community is not enough. God has always demanded more. When we committed ourselves to following Christ, we also committed to living our lives in such a way that a watching world would catch a glimpse of God’s character–His love, justice, and mercy–through our words, actions and behavior…..
Living out our faith privately was never meant to be an option.