False teaching. Bad stewardship. Destroyed environment. Stagnant financial situations. Rigged political systems. The list of what is happening in our church, country, and world can go on and on. In addition, we can be angry and fume about how it is ridiculous these situations still exist decades, centuries, and even millennia later. There may even be correctly placed blame against those who initiated and those who perpetuated it. However, what good does that do? As my wife reminds me, being angry at the past generations does not help. I try to argue but I know she is right. (Nobody tell her I said that!)
On the other hand, you know what does work? Putting that anger to use. (Again, don't tell her I am admitting this!) Deciding the “buck stops here,” to borrow from President Truman. Instead of complaining false teaching exists, spread correct teaching (there's a reason I love Snopes.) Guide others to better steward all resources (financial and otherwise) and make better decisions. Restore the environment (or make as little impact as you can.) Encourage changes for better financial situations, globally. Sign petitions and take part in the last vestige of democracy the oligarchy offers. Put another way, Chris Haw says, “...to avoid the error of scapegoating our ancestors, we are challenged to not judge accomplishments of the past by the standards of today. Instead, we do best to learn from their mistakes but also to receive and appreciate their contributions.” I always try to lead by example. When I write these posts my aim is to be able to illustrate each one with an instance from real life so the applicability is evident (thanks Proctor 7 AM Homiletics for that!) While I'm young, I have lived a full life, which allows me to have broader perspectives than most, even those older. However, I recognize at the same time my experiences have been far from perfect (identity crisis, anyone?) In these cases, I try to refer my illustrations to the lives of more exemplary characters. You know, like Jesus.
With Jesus, he didn't believe his disciples should pass the buck either. Instead, he expected them to be active in their communities. These expectations are seen throughout the Gospels, but especially in the implied commands of our King in Matthew 26:31ff: Feed me. Give me a drink. Welcome me. Clothe me. Visit me. Come to me. We do not earn our salvation, but our faith if it has no works is dead. And if we are to refer to Him as King Jesus, then we have a duty to hear and obey. As mentioned, I know I am not perfect. I try both in my personal and public life to uphold his commands. However, as I am a human undergoing transformation and not fully changed, I fail (constantly). That is the crux, though: even after failing, keep trying. He said the way of His kingdom is not easy but it is fulfilling. Sometimes I fake it 'til I make it, especially on days I just don't want to be selfless. Other days it is as if it is not only second nature, but my primary nature. (Though, in a way, it truly is supposed to be primary nature.) The transformation and inner battle has been epitomized in my eyes by the scene in Gethsemane. “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” However, this example is what allows us to know we can press on, as the oft abused passage says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Christ our exemplar is our source of fortitude for that which He commands.
With these specific commands, it is important to embody them as an individual. Yet it is also just as vital for the local bodies of followers to embrace at least one of these commands, if not all. Whether feeding the hungry, a hospitality ministry, a clothing closet, hospital and shut in ministry, or prison ministry, something out of this particular passage should exist. Not everyone needs to be involved in all of them. However, I believe some representation of these commands should be evident in each church. I myself am trying to devise a simple (though perhaps not easy) method to partake in feeding the hungry. If you would like to know my idea for yourself or your church, please let me know. Whatever you do, I implore you to do something. I realize I may have lost a few readers with my posts on hell (and non-violence... and nationalism...). But I promise my allegiance is the same as before, if not more so, to that of the wrongly crucified King. If you don't believe in Him, then this message is not directly for you. However, I do hope you will be indirect bearers of good news by kind and loving actions toward fellow humans. I believe it is about time we focused more on the good than the bad, as Father Lavelle in Calvary says, “I think there's too much talk about sins and not enough about virtues.” Let us be more virtuous.