Christ the Redeemer statue, Rio De Janeiro Photographer: Chensiyuan
“Our task as image-bearing, God-loving, Christ-shaped, Spirit-filled Christians, following Christ and shaping our world, is to announce redemption to a world that has discovered its fallenness, to announce healing to a world that has discovered its brokenness, to proclaim love and trust to a world that knows only exploitation, fear and suspicion…The gospel of Jesus points us and indeed urges us to be at the leading edge of the whole culture, articulating in story and music and art and philosophy and education and poetry and politics and theology and even–heaven help us–Biblical studies, a worldview that will mount the historically-rooted Christian challenge to both modernity and postmodernity, leading the way…with joy and humor and gentleness and good judgment and true wisdom. I believe if we face the question, “if not now, then when?” if we are grasped by this vision we may also hear the question, “if not us, then who?” And if the gospel of Jesus is not the key to this task, then what is?” N.T. Wright
God is good because He calls us to a be a light in the darkness. God calls us to be a hope to a hopeless world. This is true in our individual relationships and also on a macro level for the church and the people of God. The church and God’s people have answered this call at various times in many different powerful ways. One quote I came across recently “No single group in human history has contributed more to education than Christians have, have contributed more to healthcare than Christians have, contributed to the welfare and protection of children, fought the slave trade more, have contributed more to the cause of charity than Christians.”
Christians have a had a major force in the creation of many of the Universities, famine relief, microfinance, foster care, YMCA, child sponsorhips, AA, development of braille, scientific breakthroughs, help for lepers, prison reform, protection of child workers, the red cross, orphanages, fought for civil liberties, free or low cost health care, international fair trade, habitat for humanity, shelter for the homeless, salvation army, and many other countless things.
It’s also true that people in the church throughout history have also done some horrible things and have been on the wrong side of history at times. We have a tendency to focus on the wrong things or things that don’t matter as much as they should. One Christian speaker used to speak at different universities and start his lectures by saying “I have three things to tell you tonight. First, 300 kids died tonight of starvation. Second, none of you give a sh#%. Third, the worst part is that you are more concerned that I said sh#% than the fact 300 kids died tonight of starvation. He rarely was invited back to speak. Regardless, if you believe his approach is good or bad, it points to the fact we are often side tracked in what is most important.
To stay on track as a Christian these days is hard. We are constantly inundated with information and entertainment. It seems even more important now to read the scriptures, meditate on them, pray, and try to develop what the Bible calls the mind of Christ. These activities help us see the need around us. Paul writes to the Philippian church “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
There is so much need in the world today! I think there are two ways as Christian we can be really be a light. The first way is to be a light in our relationships. God calls us to engage the world on an individual level. The truth is discipleship, love, and community can’t happen at a distance. God is calling us to be engaged with the messy world around us and to exercise the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
The second way I believe we can really be a light to the world is on a macro level. In 1940, near the beginning the World War 2 there was a 25 year old man named Roger Schütz (Brother Roger) who thought his home country too safe and too far way to make a difference in peoples lives. So, Roger bicycled from his hometown in Switzerland to a small town in France (240 miles). It was here in an unoccupied town outside the military zone of German troops that Roger bought an empty house. He and his sister hid many refugees here before being tipped off and being forced to leave. He later came back to the town after the War to found a monastic community that thrives today.
I tell Roger’s story, because it was one of just simple action. Roger saw a need, went for it, and didn’t let danger or failure stop him from engaging. The truth is there is a lot of need out there in the world. From lack of clean water, to over 45 million slaves in the world, to over 65 million refugees, to an opioid epidemic, to lonely seniors citizens, to so many other visible and invisible needs around us. Sometimes God puts things directly on our heart, other times I feel we may need to just be more practical in our help. Every Christian, must decide for themselves what things, in what seasons, in what ways they answer God’s call to feed the hungry, and give a drink to the thirsty. This may look differently for each person, but hopefully we can always being praying and evaluating how we can help the needs of those around us. This is where the church and Christians really shine.