“So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and
especially for those of the family of faith.”
The Apostle Paul, Galatians 6:10
“. . . cease to do evil, learn to do good, . . . “
The Prophet Isaiah 1:16, 17
This past summer, my son, Christopher, and I attended a ballgame of our local AAA affiliate, the Indianapolis Indians. They are the minor league team associated
with the Pittsburgh Pirates and some of the young men now playing for the
Pirates and the chance to compete in the World Series played in Indianapolis on
their way to the major leagues. It was a fun evening. The Indians won and Christopher even bought my hot dog and peanuts. The night was most memorable,
however, because of the conversation Christopher and I had on the way
Christopher is a college junior and needless-to-say,
we don’t always see eye-to-eye on many matters.
But on this night, he initiated a conversation I thoroughly
enjoyed. It started out about how much
fun it is to go to games together, which is something he and I have done quite
a lot. But then our conversation took
several turns and we covered many aspects of life. We discussed what he wants to do in regard to
a career. He spoke about his understanding of faith. He also asked a lot of questions about family
members that he doesn’t know very well.
Then at one point in the conversation, Christopher said, “You know, Dad,
sometimes I listen when you preach.”
I said, “Well that’s good that sometimes you listen.” Christopher added, “Yeah, I mostly listen
when you tell stories.” I replied, “I
think it is easier for most people to listen to stories and that’s why Jesus
told stories so much.” My son then asked
me, “Do you know what I get from your sermons when I listen?” I honestly did not know if I wanted to hear
the answer to that question, but I went ahead and asked, “What?” And he said, “Do good. That’s what I get from you when I listen. Do
good.” Other than my wife, probably no
one has heard more of my sermons than Christopher and if after twenty years of sometimes
listening to my sermons, he can sum up all that preaching in those two words,
“do good,” I’ll take it.
I thoroughly believe that the future strength of the
church is to be found not first in “orthodoxy” which is adherence to correct
beliefs, but in “orthopraxy” – the practice of right behavior or as I would put
it “to do good.” The congregation I
serve is one that has taken as its mission imperative the task of “thoughtfully
and faithfully following Jesus.” Those
five words form the core of who we are and how we try to engage the world. Following Jesus is not a passive
endeavor. It means being involved with
the world the way Jesus was and asks us to be.
It means working to ensure that everyone has food to eat and clothes to
wear and a place that they can call home.
It means that our congregations are places that practice a deep sense of
hospitality, not only welcoming all who come our way, but by finding ways we
can actively be good neighbors in our communities. It means caring for the sick
and the aged, giving voice to those who have been pushed to the edges of
society. It means having a sense of
grace and respect for all people, helping our world to become that beloved community
of reconciliation and peace that it was created to be. Following Jesus means
giving our lives so that others might have life.
Faith is an action oriented endeavor. I have always appreciated the wisdom of an
old Chinese proverb, “It is much better to light a candle in the darkness, than
to just curse the darkness.”
The media tells us about the overwhelming response
that often occurs after a natural disaster or another kind of tragic event,
such as the bombing at the Boston Marathon.
It is wonderful that people respond to the real needs that arise during
such times. But the good we are called
to do and which needs to be done is not limited to tragic and catastrophic
events. Every day there are real needs
of struggling people that need to be met.
Children who are hungry, families who need adequate shelter and access
to health care, villages that need wells drilled for clean water, people living
in nursing facilities who need someone to hold their hand on a lonely day. The list of needs goes on and on without
end. Moses said to the Israelite people,
“Since there will never cease to be some
in need on the earth, I therefore command you, ‘Open your hands to the poor and
needy neighbor . . . .’”
The ways to
help are numerous as well, Habitat for Humanity, Heifer International, Living
Water for Clean Water, Week of Compassion, local food pantries, nursing
facility volunteer, adult literacy programs, etc. and etc. There are numerous ways to be involved in the
doing of good.
Of course, no individual nor single congregation can
do all that needs to be done. But every
individual and congregation can do some of the good that needs to be done in
our communities and world. And whatever
good any of us do makes a difference.
The last thing our world needs right now is a
passive church or one that is focused only on adherence to a correct system of
doctrinal beliefs. The world needs a
church that is leading the way in respecting human dignity and worth, working
for human equality, responding to human need, finding ways to take care of our
planet that we share together. The world
needs a church that is working to “do good.”
May we strive to be that church.
Do some good today.
via Articles – [D]mergent http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/dmergent/~3/lGqIxB828aA/do-good