Tuesday, May 11, 2010

When Thoughts Turn to Action

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." ~Matthew 25:44-46

This verse has to be one of the most convicting passages in the Bible. In fact, all of the most convicting passages are the scriptures written in red. As Christians, all important life lesson can be learned directly from the words and actions of Jesus Christ. I can't emphasize enough how, as Christians, we have to imitate Christ. There can be no other authority on right behavior in our lives. So many lessons to learn and only one life in which to learn them. I think I had better shake a leg and start putting some verbs in my sentences when it comes to living a life in imitation of Christ.

Verbs. Action. That is what Jesus spoke of in Matthew 25. He wanted his followers to actively help those less fortunate, those in need, outcasts. Jesus didn't simply say, feel bad for them, or to pray for them exclusively. No, he said to do something for them. This distinction is key to living our life as Jesus lived. He was not a passive observer, nor just a preacher, teacher or intercessory prayer warrior. He was out in the midst of the most chaotic events of his time. He touched people. Spoke to them. Gave them food. This was Jesus.

So many times, when tragic events, like death, job loss, serious illness, for instance, happen to those around us, we say to the hurting "Let me know if I can help.". While this is a nice gesture, it doesn't really have much of a tangible impact on those who need us. Likewise, when horrible natural disasters happen, we read about it and see pictures of it. We ache for those affected. We pray for them. We may even write about it, talk about it or otherwise get the word out that people are experiencing loss, but our empathy/sympathy for them doesn't go a long way towards giving them a bed to sleep on tonight or food to eat tomorrow. We have to step out of our own insular world and do something. Just like Jesus would were he here today.

Sometimes, all we can do is send money. Other times, we can roll up our sleeves and get to work. Either way we are doing something beyond ourselves and these actions tend to have a ripple effect. People see other people acting and they are more likely to act themselves and on and on it goes. It is poetry in motion, I say. And let me tell you this, any time I have put thoughts into action, pitched in and helped out, no matter what the cause, I have always come away with more blessings than I ever gave. At times I have felt almost selfish volunteering because it is so rewarding.

I am pretty sure Jesus knew how rewarding action was and I have a sneaking suspicion that he wanted to share that joy with his followers, those he called his friends, his brothers and sisters. When you find joy in an activity, don't you want to share it with your friends and have them experience it for themselves? I know I do. So, it is not only obedience that should drive us to put some verbs in our sentences next time we hear of something that stabs our hearts, but also the realization that out of pain can spring the joy of giving back. We trade that joy back and forth with those we help. It's what Jesus did. Isn't it the least that we can do in his name?

It's Only - Danny Gokey