Let your light shine among others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
When I was young and I heard that verse, very often I was told that that verse was about evangelizing. But no, it is about us glorifying God by doing good deeds.
When we do good things among other people, when we make other people’s lives better, when people see us as creators of good in this broken world…they see it and glorify God.
In the end, isn’t that what we want?
When we stand before God at the end of time, do we want to hear him say:
“Well, you really kicked some butt down there on earth during that pandemic. You really showed ’em and told ’em about your Christian freedom! I bet those wussy American snowflakes won’t ever forget you!”
Is that even his character?
Or maybe would it be more in line with God’s character (and Scripture- particularly John 13:35) to want to hear him say:
“Well done. You have shown you are my disciples by loving one another.”
I am so thankful every time I read about:
Someone who has smiled and said thank you to a cashier at the grocery store or a delivery person.
Someone who gave extra to charities who are feeding the less fortunate.
The good-deed doers who secretly leave packages with supplies and treats on the porches of the elderly members of their congregation.
Someone who sent money to supply PPE to rural hospitals, Native American reservations and clinics.
People can see these good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven.
How much better to be known as a person who glorifies God than someone who glorifies what they want.
These are challenging times. We are surrounded by anxiety, and rightfully so. Never have we Americans seen the dangers of a pandemic or such related collapse of economy.
As a prayer person, and a licensed professional counselor, I feel compelled to deliver a warning: We Christians must, more than ever, be asking ourselves frequently, “What would Jesus do?”
I know that sounds like a, “Well, DUH!” statement. All those faithful in Christ want to do what Jesus would do.
But how do we do what Jesus would do in times of pandemic and economic disaster?
I wonder if Jesus would have acted like some Christians I am acquainted with? Christians are people too, and anxious people sometimes tend to handle high anxiety by becoming angry, selfish, accusatory or giving up their kingdom leadership responsibilities and latching onto vociferous leaders who may be wolves in sheep’s clothing.
We were born again into leadership, each of us who follow Christ are called into God’s kingdom as kings and priests (Revelation 1:6). We are also called to follow Christ’s leadership.
So, how would Jesus lead during pandemic and economic disaster? In his stressful times, he taught his disciples to be servers, givers, healers and hope inspirers for the broken world around them.
Can you imagine what it would be like, at the end of this pandemic, to be the people who inspired as much hope in the world around us as the healthcare workers, delivery people, and grocery store clerks have done?
How can we inspire and help others when we are quarantined and/ or struggling financially ourselves?
Little things count.
All through Scripture there are stories of small, unimportant people who did big things. (Look up folks like Joanna, Suzanna, and Jael, for instance.)
We may not be big, famous, important people in the practical sense, but I feel certain that God may be calling us to make a courageous, world-changing impact right where we are. We may be unimportant people, but we can make a difference!
We Christians can lead our nation and our communities by asking ourselves, “What would Jesus do during this pandemic and economic disaster?” Then we can model ourselves after Christ’s example. We can be a people who are:
For things rather than against things
When you are against things, you can “rile people” up quickly but you cannot get much godly stuff done with rile. Riled-up folks will follow anyone who gives them relief. If you watch carefully, bad players often step into these times of chaos. These are people who are seeking attention, power or riches. They are rarely seeking the good of those they are “leading”.They are simply opportunists who will give the illusion of leading but in truth they are manipulating an anxious public to get themselves ahead.
Beware of the bad players. Instead, try fulfilling your leadership responsibilities by giving anxious people a vision! Remind them: These are hard times but we can get through this by looking out for others as well as ourselves.
Share with your friends and family this visionary question: What would you like for your lives to be like during quarantine, during re-opening and while facing a new normal?What can you do to work toward that, for yourselves and your neighbors?
Keep asking yourself: What good news am I sharing, giving and living?
Whatever you read, whatever you listen to (for instance: social media and the news), whatever you say or however you act is leading you on a road to creating something in your future (and the future of other folks in your sphere of influence), whether you or they want that something or not.
Ask yourself, is what I am reading, listening to, saying or doing leading me to:
Faith, hope and love (1 Corinthians 12 and 13)
Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control? (Galatians 5:22-23)
If not, do you want to be praying about what God would like to you be moving towards?
Would you pray that God would work in you to will and to do HIS good pleasure? (Philippians 2:13)
Would you pray that he help you to press onto the prize of HIS high calling for you in Christ? (Philippians 3:14)
Ask yourself: What good news am I sharing, giving and living?
Sometimes God does call us to take a stand. Ask yourself these questions,
“When I am standing up for something, is that something I am taking a stand on: MYSELF or someone who can’t stand up for themselves?”
“When I am standing up for something, am I able to represent Christ as I do so?”
“Is the fruit of the Spirit evident in my behavior and in the leadership I am standing with?”
“Are people drawn to the good news by what I am doing?”
(BTW- I’m talking about taking a stand in the world. In a personal relationship, assertiveness is a healthy kind of standing up for yourself.)
1 John 4:1 tells us to try the spirit, because not all spirits are of God. When life gets chaotic and scary, even Christians can listen to the wrong spirits. These are chaotic and scary times. We must pray and ask ourselves:
What would Jesus do with this information?
What would he do next?
Will people see Christ in me if I engage in…?”
What good fruit am I showing, sharing, giving and living?
God called us to justice, mercy and humility. (He has shown you, oh man, what is good: and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8)
Be careful with the word “justice”. We Americans often feel that justice means “getting even”. However, the Hebrew word “Mishpat” carries the connotation of doing what is right, including looking out for those who do not not have a fair shake in life. Standing up for and looking our for the weak and marginalized. Doing good deeds, especially when you don’t expect a direct return.
If we look at the word “justice” through that lens, how would we:
Handle our own positions during this pandemic?
Handle the crises of safety, health, lack of resources of:
the families in your church that are struggling economically or who lost a loved one.
the small businesses in your community
poor in our inner cities
the Native Americans, the reservations of some which are harder hit with COVID-19, percentage-wise, than any other place in the nation
the immigrants who have no resources or connections
The word “mercy” means to show oneself kind. Can you ask yourself daily, “Did I show kindness today?
Walk Humbly with your God.
The word “humility” connotes teachableness. At this perilous time in history, we desperately need to be available and listening to Christ’s teachings and role modeling, to the leading of the Holy Spirit. We must be wary of the teachings of bad players. Humility keeps us calm and available to learn God’s ways to handle pandemics and economic disasters.
Humility is also the opposite of self-absorption. As C.S. Lewis aptly put it: Humility does not mean thinking less about yourself, it means thinking about yourself less. How have you walked humbly with God today?
What good news are you living in justice, mercy and humility?
Here’s a tough question: If Christ came back tomorrow, would He find you engaged in fruit, justice, service, discernment… in spreading the good news? Or would He find you using his name to engage in inflammatory, destructive politicking, power-grabbing or looking out for only you and yours. (As the apocryphal prayer goes: God, look out for me, my wife, my kids. Us four, no more.)
If Christ came back tomorrow, would he find you neglecting to lead like him, neglecting to look, think and act like him? How would He respond? How would you feel?
This doesn’t mean that you should not be involved in politics or in praying for your family. I personally am engaged in both. But I believe I have a primary mission, and I believe other Christians do, too:
To live the good news, that others see Christ in us and are drawn to that light of love.
Seek FIRST the kingdom of God.
Then all those things (in this case, His wisdom on what to do, when, how much, and what method) will be added to you.
So how do you handle the real, realities in this anxiety-provoking world?
Pray. As my friend, Kym, says, “Pray first, last and always.” Here’s a helpful formula:
We should spend as much time in prayer for our nation and world as we do on social media speaking out about things.
And when we take a public stand ask yourself: Is this stand a stand that is FOR someone and IN the fruit of the spirit?
One way to pray is silence. Go before the Lord and sit with Him, perhaps let the Holy Spirit pray through you in “groanings that cannot be uttered”. (Romans 8:26) God does not need words for your prayer to matter or be heard. He wants your presence and obedience.
Write your elected officials: State and National. Let them know what you are concerned about, especially keeping in mind those who are unimportant or marginalized and thus, and cannot speak for themselves. Write to them about it.
Give, serve and lead in whatever organizations and causes, impelled by the good news of Christ’s leading and fruit.
Do practical things aligned with God’s leading. Check what you are feeling against these ideas that we just discussed:
What are you for?
What fruit will you show?
What discernment are you receiving from God?
How is it leading you to service?
May we followers of Christ come out of this pandemic being and living more like Christ.