All right, let’s get some theology straight here. Our church is in the middle of this “Gifted 2 Go” project and it’s important that we be somewhat clear regarding the reasons we do things. Our motivations and expectations for what we do should always be guided by the Gospel of Christ. And we should all be at least close to the same understandings about what that is.
If we don’t guard ourselves, we can very easily be confused into thinking that the Bible is mainly about what we’re supposed to be doing instead of Scripture being mainly about revealing to us a picture of our God. That makes a huge difference in the way we view and apply the Bible and in our own motivations for doing good.
Jesus taught that we should turn the other cheek. Yes. But Jesus never said turning the other cheek toward someone who hits you is a useful and efficient method for bringing out the best in that person. Turning the other cheek, giving up your coat, walking two miles instead of one — it’s not taught by our Lord because it works. Let’s be honest, it usually doesn’t. It’s taught because this is the way our God is. God is kind to the selfish and ungrateful. He is merciful and loving to his enemies. As we in Amarillo can testify this week, our Father brings his rains equally on the just and the unjust.
Doing good to others is not a strategy for getting what we want. Instead, doing good to others is the only way to live since, in Jesus, we clearly see what God wants. We seek reconciliation and relationship with our neighbor, not because it makes us feel good, but because reconciliation and relationship is what God is doing in the world right now through Christ.
So, tonight we’re baking and delivering cookies to our neighbors. We’re changing the oil in their cars, washing their pick-ups, and helping them with their laundry. Not because it’ll work. Not because it’ll make us feel good about ourselves. Not because it’ll cause our church to grow or give Central great publicity. We serve our neighbors because this is who God is.