“But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
If we are not careful, we could find our lives absolutely overwhelming. Well, maybe some of us already feel overwhelmed by the choices we face; life can be challenging as it can be joyous. So what do we do? Maybe the real question is, what has God called us to do? What has God called you to do? God seems to make clear the most important calling you have is to serve Jesus Christ, to affirm that you see all the stuff in the world you want no part of and that those things actually keep you from the love of Christ. You could decide to follow the god of gossip, or the god of deceit, or the god of character assassination, and even the god of judgment; they are out there to be sure and any one of those and so many other “gods” will have a detrimental effect both on your relationship with God and certainly with each other. Maybe God is asking you, as God asked Joshua, to make a decision with eternal implications. We could serve many gods that sap our strength, wear us down, and ultimately negatively impact our character and relationships or, or we could stand up and say “no, as for me and my house I will serve the Lord!!!” When temptation knocks, and it does so often times insidiously, remember what Christ has offered you and the joy that grows in your soul when you choose the Lord to lead you through life. Choose grace. Choose to follow the One who will free you from the “gods” of the world and with joy serve the One true God, full of grace, peace, hope, joy, and the redemption of your soul. No matter what you have done in life, no matter the words that may bring you down, when you say, “no, as for me I will serve the Lord “and ask the Lord to enter your life you will be blessed beyond your wildest imagination. By God’s grace you are redeemed. That is what it means to follow, and that is why it is such a joy to serve the Lord. It is all about grace, working in you. Accept the gift. Celebrate the new life you have been offered.
“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
You are blessed, I pray you know that fact. You have been blessed with an incredible number of gifts to serve the people of God. So imagine the church full of people so blessed that together the world could be transformed through the sharing of God’s grace. The church is not a building, it is the very Body of Christ called to do nothing less than to witness the incredible love of God to a world sorely in need of grace, peace, and hope. And where there are these three, there is joy. God, through Christ has knit us all together as children of God to see the world as Christ sees the world, to build unity even through our diversity. The creator of the universe loves you so much that you have been given the privilege and the honor to serve the least, the lost, the marginalized, and the forgotten. So the cry goes out, given the state of our word, “what can we do?” You and I are part of the most powerful, incredible, unbelievable, grace-filled, Spirit-centered, life transforming “body” the universe has ever known. There is hope because there is Jesus the Christ alive and well in the world. Jesus is calling each of us to use the gifts we have been given for the glory of God. Most of the time we have no idea who we have served, “for I was hungry [says the Lord] and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” May you be so blessed to touch lives you may never even know you have touched then ask, “When was it…?” You are loved and blessed, go and do likewise.
“…and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving to one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.”
So, “where do I begin?” With so much work to do not only in the world, but also in the world of our communities, families, and homes it may be hard to know just where to begin. Did you know you have been given a gift of new life? The best place to begin doing the work of God is accepting the grace and power you have been given. You have been redeemed. You are not the same because of Jesus. You are worthy, no matter what someone else may say. Nobody has the right to tell you otherwise or to treat you in any other way than with respect and honor. This is the message of the Christian faith. So maybe begin with the fact that God has called you, blessed you, and loves more than you will ever know. Maybe begin celebrating Christ alive and well in the world by accepting a faith that affirms more than anything you are a child of God, beloved and cherished by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Living a “new life” in Christ means to live transformed by grace. Jesus calls us to higher ground to be sure. Jesus’ words were intended only to build another up, not tear them down. Sometimes it is hard to live according to God’s grace when others have different ideas of how to speak about others and how to treat those around them. But God is with you and will strengthen you to live by the grace you have received. The joy of faith is the fact that nothing will ever separate you from the love of Christ Jesus our Lord. With God’s help, you will “renew your strength, mount up with wings like eagles, run and not be weary, walk and not faint.” God is truly good, all the time.
“Go, and do likewise”
Living a life of faith is an adventure to be sure. Our bags are packed with all kinds of gifts and blessings; we are ready to roll. But, where do we begin? Our prayers may include the question, “Lord, what can I do, with so much needed in our world?” Funny thing about Jesus; he never discriminated when it came to showing mercy to people. Jesus never said, “I will help this person because they deserve being helped” or “since they are not part of a particular group or class, I will not help them.” Jesus never said, “Do not sit with this person” or “do not offer grace to these people because you may think they are sinners not worthy of the Kingdom.” Jesus never advocated violence against any person. God is too big and gracious for discriminating against anybody, let alone turning away from human need. For Jesus, it was, and is, all about sharing the love, mercy and grace with another. Search the Gospels and you will not find a time that Jesus did not stop to offer grace and mercy. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, there was no hint of who the man was who fell into the hands of robbers, no idea about his criminal history, culture, ethnicity or proclivities, only that he was a person in need. We do not even know the man’s name or where he was from; all we know is that he needed help, and help was given. So what can you do? When in doubt, show mercy and grace to another in need. “Go, and do likewise.”