(Membership Caring Month #3)
I want to start with something funny that I found on the internet site: A 6-year-old boy was overheard reciting the Lord’s Prayer at a church service. ‘And forgive us our trash passes, as we forgive those who passed trash against us.’
Forgiveness and love are virtues of Christians. However, it is not easy to practice them in our everyday life. Especially when we meet our enemies, it is even more difficult to forgive and love them. However, we should remember Jesus’ saying, “But I say to you that listen, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-28). It is a radical and proactive love Jesus has taught us, and we should practice it daily.
Keeping with membership caring month, I’m talking about three simple rules Christians should practice daily. For the second topic, today, I want to talk about “Doing Good.” Doing good is a serious challenge for all Christians, even though it is a direct command from Jesus. You may think, ‘well, I’m always doing good.’ If you do so, you are great. We Christians, at least, try not to harm others, as I talked about last Sunday. To not harm others is easier than to do good. We may achieve ‘not harming’ others and even our enemies by avoiding having contact with them. If we don’t see them, we may eventually forget what they did to us. And then the hate fades until we don’t hate them any longer. Somehow, the first simple rule of Christians, “do no harm,” may be easier to achieve as we avoid facing those who go against us or disagree with us than “doing good.”
However, while “doing good” does sound simple, we wonder where should we begin. “Doing good” may not be achieved by avoiding people. Instead, we have to actively see people to “do good.” This may raise some questions for you like: What are the boundaries, or the limits? What does ‘doing good’ look like in our divided, hostile, and wounded world? Jesus suggests that doing good is a universal command. That is, doing good for others is not limited to those that like me or those who don’t like me. Doing good should be directed towards everyone, even those who do not fit into our category of who is “worthy,” to receive it. This command is also universal in that no one is exempt from it.
Doing good is a more proactive way of living than “not harming.” We can immediately be asked to do some good deed or help. We do not need to wait until circumstances cry out for aid to relieve suffering or correct some horrible injustice. We can decide that our ways of living will come down on the side of doing good to all in every circumstance and in every way. We can choose a way of living that nourishes goodness and strengthens the community. This way of living will require a careful and continual assessment of our lives and the world. It will require an even more bold and radical step than “not harming” those who disagree with me and even seek to harm me. We commit ourselves to seeking good for everyone in our world and God’s world.
The Letter of Hebrews says, “Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers. For by so doing, some people have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:1-2). We may begin “doing good” by entertaining strangers. The Letter of Hebrews indicates Abraham’s story. Abraham left his hometown as God said, “Leave your hometown, your parent’s house, and go where I will indicate.” His age was seventy. Now he became ninety-nine. He was still on his journey toward the land God guided. Until that time, he didn’t have his own children, and he didn’t know where his journey would end up. One day, he sat under the tree and saw three strangers come to his place. As soon as he saw them, he ran to them, bowed down, and asked them to come into his tent and take a rest, eating some food he would prepare for them. He entertained them with great food and a comfortable place. They were angels. After they received his treat, they gave him a son, Isaac. This happened when he reached the age of one hundred. Doing good may start with entertaining strangers like Abraham. Doing good may begin with helping people in need, like the good Samaritan. It can start with volunteer work in the community, feeding wild animals, and assisting neighbors with shoveling snow.
In today’s scripture, the disciple Peter says, “God is no partiality, and he is the Lord of all.” That is, we are one in God. And “we” includes all the people in all the nations. Therefore, “doing good” is not limited. The message began in Galilee and went throughout Judea, Jerusalem, Samaria, Rome, and all of Europe, and then to us in the USA through those who practiced the love Jesus Christ and who showed and taught his message. We call them “witnesses.” The message is that God gave us his Only Son because He so loved us. The message is about how Jesus was doing good and healing all the people he met and how much he loved us till he died on the cross and was resurrected. The message of his love came to us now, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and asks us to do good as He did.
We are here to desire to do good as Jesus showed and taught us. But the truth is that our gift of goodness may be rejected, ridiculed, and misused. While working in my office, I have received many phone calls and messages from those in need. Whenever I get messages, I call them back to hear their stories and to see if I can help them. Mostly they said, “I called many churches to get help, but I never received a call back from any other churches except you.” Some of you may say, ‘if we help them, who knows how they will use that money-they may use it for drugs or alcohol.’ They might misuse it, or they might ridicule us. However, we do good as Jesus Christ did so. When Jesus did good, many people mocked him, hated him, went against him, and finally hanged him on the tree. Nevertheless, he went through the way of goodness and righteousness and taught us to go the same.
I believe “to do good” responds to God’s invitation to follow Jesus. We can choose to extend hospitality and goodness to all we meet. We can decide to do good to all, even to those who disagree with us, and turn against what we believe is right and good. And the reward for our doing good is not canceled or diminished by the response to our acts of goodness. In other words, doing good is not in an individual’s request or in anticipation of receiving any reward for worldly things. It is because of God’s will toward us. When we do good, we received the reward of knowing we did what was right and pleasing to God. We also will be identified, known, and loved as a child of God. What could be a greater reward than that?
Of course, this is a challenging way to live. To love God with our whole being and our neighbor as much as we love ourselves, was never declared easy. But it was said to be essential to our spiritual life, our life of faith, and our life with God. Doing good is also beneficial for our spiritual life because it is how to come closer to God. Our simple step to do good in everyday life will make a huge difference in transforming our world. Christians believe in God with our whole hearts, minds, and souls and act with our hands and feet doing what we believe. The First Letter of John says, “Whoever does good is from God” (3 John 11b). Dear family in Jesus Christ, let’s do good and show the people that we belong to God. Thanks be to God. Amen!