"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15
Should We Be Embarrassed?
Many people today reject Jesus because they perceive Christians as hypocritical, uncaring, exclusive, bigoted, etc. and/or they think are skeptical and believe we all have ulterior motives.
Because of this, they rightly challenge us with difficult questions such as:
Does your religion help society? Does it help me, whether I’m in your group or not? Or are you just another self-serving group?
I think one of the best passages to answer this set of questions is James 2:14-18:
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
This passage places a focus on servant-evangelism. Contrary to one popular view, this passage isn’t talking about salvation (Salvation is faith alone in Christ alone), instead it’s talking about our witness before other people. Because of what Jesus did for us and because we are children of God (who in 1 John 4 is called love itself) we need to love other people regardless of their spiritual condition. Not only do we need to love in our hearts we need to love them practically.
This is NOT to be confused with a social gospel (doing random acts of kindness without sharing Jesus with them), but rather doing good works in the name of Jesus. But we also need to be careful to not appear to being coercive and having ulterior motives – We need to love for Love’s sake (for God is Love).
Being selfless in our love will be compelling to those who have a strong emotional connection to this set of questions, particularly if they or someone close to them is directly and practically impacted by our acts of love.
There is a tract from the North American Mission Board called “Why We’re Here…” it ties in well with this passage (and is good for passing out when you are doing a public act of love/service). Let’s look at this tract as an application from what is implied from the James 2 passage above.
The tract says:
Often people ask what brought us here, and why we’re doing what we’re doing. There are three simple reasons I came to serve others this week…
- I met God one day, and He has changed my life. I used to live my life pretty selfishly. Then I met the God of the Bible. Now I care about people and meeting their needs in a brand new way.
- I want you to see God’s love in my service. Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16, NIV). I want you to know that I’m serving others because of God’s love in my life.
- I hope you will want to know more about how to have a personal relationship with God. John 3:16 is just one verse in the Bible, but it explains a great deal about God and His plan for you. If you have a few minutes, I’d be happy to talk with you about knowing God personally through Jesus.
As a Christian I’m often embarrassed that society expects the government to take care of social issues! Jesus has called for us to take care of the poor and helpless. We need to love and care for people because He does. If we love Him we will love what He loves.
Let’s follow what the Scripture says here in James 2 and Matthew 5:16 and put hands and feet to the Gospel!