By Rick Rusaw
Remember the popular WWJD wristbands? The phrase was meant to help people stop and ask themselves, “What would Jesus do?” before making a choice or decision.
I think WDJD, “What did Jesus do?” is a better question to ask. The Bible gives a full account of Jesus and what he did: He “came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus came as a Savior, and he also told his followers he came to serve. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
If we are following the example of Jesus, saving the lost and serving the least should be important to us. It isn’t an either/or proposition. Jesus did both.
I am happy to be a part of a movement of churches and people of faith who are getting outside the walls of the church to serve. For many years, it seems as if churches leaned a little too heavy on only telling people how to be saved, but not showing them how much God cared. Finally, that is changing.
Last summer LifeBridge Christian Church was involved in a weekend event called Sharefest. We collaborated with a number of churches to serve schools. Our church, in particular, had between 500-600 people painting and landscaping two entire school facilities. Through this we hoped to show teachers, children, neighbors, and anyone connected with these schools that God cares about kids and our community. It was an awesome event.
But as great as it was, if all we are about is serving, then we are just like social workers. It’s true the world certainly needs more social workers, but God is inviting followers to see the connection that good deeds and good news go together. Both are needed. How can they connect?
Imagine the Sharefest service weekend spilling over into good news on Monday morning. Beyond the e-mail that the principal shared with his staff that the building was improved (it’s always good news to teachers that the Christians didn’t mess things up!), imagine conversations at the local Starbucks on Monday. What if one person who served at the school told another person—who isn’t a Christian—about the weekend of service and the accomplishment, the camaraderie, the unity of believers he experienced?
Our good deeds could and should open doors of spiritual conversation. “I did the neatest thing this weekend! Can I tell you about it?” Suddenly, a door is unlocked.
A larger percentage of people today are interested in faith issues than you might think. Yet, we often overlook or hold back from sharing. Why? Maybe because we don’t recognize the value of what God has done for us. His gift of Christ is a huge gift.
SHARING GOOD NEWS
One of my favorite Old Testament stories is found in 2 Kings. The city of Samaria was under siege. An enemy was parked outside the city, not letting food or supplies make their way in or out. We don’t know how long Samaria was under siege, but we do know it was a long time because its residents had run out of supplies and even resorted to cannibalism.
Outside of the city were four men with leprosy who had been forced out. These men would come to the city gates at night to be fed. But now, since all the food was gone inside the city, these four men decided to sneak into the enemy camp at night and see if they could steal some food. They had determined they were going to die anyway, so why not die trying?
The story takes a dramatic turn when the four men learn the enemy camp is not what it seemed.
At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, not a man was there, for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives (2 Kings 7:5-7).
These four sick and starving men went from tent to tent getting all the food they wanted because the enemy camp was actually an empty camp! They gorged themselves and took the gold and silver and buried it so they could come later to get it. Then they realized they were in possession of something greater: they had good news to share. Second Kings 7:9 says, “Then they said to each other, ‘We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves.’”
My good friend Eric Swanson always says, “Good deeds often pave the road over which good news travels.” Wouldn’t it be great if this week there were 500-600 spiritual conversations happening in our communities connecting our good deeds to the good news?
Rick Rusaw is the senior minister of LifeBridge Christian Church, Longmont, Colorado (www.lbcc.org), coauthor of The Externally Focused Church and Living a Life on Loan, and a founder of the Externally Focused Network.