How to Restore a Life, a Church, a Community, and Even a Country
Devotional Thought of the Day:
All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.What came to be 4 through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race;5 the light shines in the darkness,and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:3-5
Money can buy many things, but not the spirit of selflessness and service. That can, perhaps, be borrowed for awhile from other countries, but when it is lacking for any length of time in the whole organism of a nation, its achievement stands on feet of clay, and its collapse is in the long run inevitable. (1)
It is amazing how many people make promises that would give us hope. A new product will change our lives, a new investment program will ensure comfort in our retirement, a politician will make our communities thrive again.
What these ads are telling us, whether we realize it is or not, is that we are impoverished. That we don’t have the ability to truly live life to its fullest, because we lack this essential ingredient.
This is true for individuals, for churches, communities and our country. These advertisers, selling everything from caffeine, bacon and beer to pecan-pumpkin flavored bleach and political candidates are telling us, “you don’t have a life”, or “your life, such as it is, sucks.”
What they don’t realize, is the only essential in our lives, is Christ… and that changes everything… for it creates life.
Pope Benedict in one of my readings this morning, noted that declining countries are those who are lacking people who are willing to work the people to serve in our nursing homes and hospitals, who will take on the hardest roles where personal sacrifice is called for daily. We import people to work in those areas, rather than raising up our children and the children in our communities to make a difference. They may be imported from other states, or other countries – but imported they are.
It is not hard to see a correlation between that and the death of churches in communities. For as the church dies, the amount of people who follow Christ – not just into heaven, but walk with Him, imitating Him, living as He did – for He himself brings life to us, and defines it as He lives in harmony with the Father and the Spirit, even as He calls us into that relationship.
This is our identity, this is our life, this is what it means to be His people, and for Him to be our God. To be the children of God who love as we are loved, who lay aside our lives for others, that they would be reconciled to God. That they too would be able to share in God’s glory, that they would know and be united to Jesus.
This is why scripture points out that true religion is caring for the widow and orphan! It points out that the sheep are welcomed into heaven because they served (even though they didn’t realize they were serving!) We see that in the Augsburg Confession as well, as it talks of obedience and good works as the effect of knowing God’s love. It all starts with His love, and the result of that is a love that brings us to serve each other.
So if we want to see our church or our country renewed, it starts with knowing Jesus, with knowing the love and mercy of God which transforms us into people who serve, and even suffer, as Christ did – for the joy set before us, knowing the love of God for HIs people, of whom we are a part.
Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.