As Christians we are called to be the hands and feet, the Body of Christ in the world. In this calling we are to follow the example Jesus Christ gave us. Throughout Scripture, Christ gives us examples as to how we are to love thy neighbor. That means when we see people sick, suffering, imprisoned, hurting, and lost we are to stop and go out of our way to help. Basically, we are to put the needs of others before our own. It should not be too difficult to find those that are in need and could benefit from the gifts we have to offer. The amazing thing about this work that God has called us to is that we don’t have to be all things to all people. Rather, God has given each of us unique and important spiritual gifts that will help to meet the needs of the world and spread the love and Light of Christ.
Some of us are called to travel abroad to build up infrastructure in impoverished places. Natural disasters strike in our communities, our state, and in neighboring areas and we can help to rebuild homes to make living conditions acceptable. Others may have a skill or knowledge in the medical field as a doctor or nurse and can offer assistance, either locally or abroad, to people in need of healing care. Individuals and families go hungry everyday when others take more than they really need. Perhaps we can help to feed them by donating food, preparing a meal, or just offering a cup of cold water. Any resource we have is a gift from God meant to share with others.
However, doing this good work of discipleship and giving ourselves so that others may thrive doesn’t have to be a complicated or elaborate plan to overcome a systemic problem such as homelessness or hunger. There are many simple things we can do as disciples to spread the Light of Christ in the world. This reminds me of one of the “unofficial rules” there were standards when I was a chaplain intern at Rex Hospital. The first unofficial rule was “Show up!” As a chaplain I may or may not have been able to offer the perfect word to comfort a patient in need, or defeat loneliness with a few minutes of companionship, or pray a prayer that would bring assurance in God’s presence. But I certainly would do none of these things if I just decided to stay home that day. If I never took a step in faith, if I never just showed up and asked if there was anything I could do to help, I would have stifled the work and presence of God in the world before it even had a chance to begin. I’m pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t call that faithful discipleship. And all I had to do was show up and allow God to work.
I find a lot of similarities between this rule about beginning the work of discipleship by “showing up” and the 2017-2018 theme at Hayes Barton UMC of “Go Ye Therefore.” In these three words of Scripture from Matthew 28:19-20 we are basically being called to show up in the world as disciples of Jesus Christ. God has come to the world, fully human and fully divine, in Jesus Christ to give us an example of true discipleship, to offer forgiveness of all sins in order to heal brokenness, and at death grant us all eternal life. There is no other gift great than that. Therefore we must go, we must show up, and we must offer ourselves for others so that they may know this and thrive.
If we are thankful for this gift of grace we have been offered in Christ without merit (I know I am!!) then discipleship (showing up) must be our necessary, yet simple response. This is a time and season in the world where there are many things to distract us from this work. Demands of jobs and careers leave us with little free time. Because of this reality in the world in which we live, how we spend our free time and money indicates what is important to us. Now I know precious time with family is important and I would not want to take away any of those special moments, but what could we do to show up in the midst of another person’s struggle and give ourselves so that they may thrive? It can be just as simple as showing up! Or we could take it a step further and follow Christ’s example and love thy neighbor, feed the hungry, eat with sinners, or be present with the sick or imprisoned. We could also do one of the hardest things that Christ has done and offer forgiveness to one another. In a world of evil and confrontation, I can’t imagine a more important, yet simple way to be the Light of Christ in the world. So today, and everyday, Go Ye Therefore, be a disciple of Jesus Christ, and be amazed at the awesome work God will do to transform the world when you show up! For this may it be on earth as it is in heaven.
Peace and love, Adam