Ever do something stupid? Specifically, have you ever posted something stupid to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter?
I have. More than I care to admit.
April Fool’s Day is coming, and it reminds me of a time that I posted something REALLY stupid. Robyn and I had been married three or four years, and I thought it would be funny to post a fake pregnancy announcement. It wasn’t funny. Don’t try it. People believed it (C’mon! It was April Fool’s Day!) and it hurt them to find out we weren’t.
Recently I posted something that I also regretted. It was about my neighborhood and the need for Jesus and about planting a church. Blah, blah, blah. It wasn’t smart. It wasn’t intended to be offensive to anyone, but I totally saw how it was just in poor taste and manipulative. So I deleted it.
After I got a text.
One of my childhood best friends sent me a message asking why Christians have to talk about Jesus and doing good. His question was essentially this, “Why can’t Christians just do good things without sharing about salvation or getting people into the church?” His question was heard, loud and clear. Facebook post deleted.
Throughout the day we sent a few messages back and forth about Christianity and why the Jesus community feels the need to proselytize. Why can’t Christians only be nice, and keep their beliefs to themselves?
In order to not head down too many rabbit trails I will try to talk about why I can’t keep my faith to myself, then address why some of the greatest charities on the planet are Christian and end with Jesus’ words about the topic.
For me, doing good and sharing faith are two sides of the same coin. I can do nothing good without Jesus. Literally. I feel that every single act of kindness is a work of the Holy Spirit. Through Jesus I can overcome my selfishness and ego to bless others.
As I help, care, resource and serve my community I take every opportunity to share about Jesus. The reason I do good is because Jesus did good for me first. I want to partner with Jesus because he was a perfect example of living sacrificially for a community. He healed, he fed, he washed feet and died tragically so that I might be a part of the Kingdom of God here on earth, and forever in eternity.
This is where my mind goes, if Jesus isn’t the truth and reality of God.
I don’t care. I don’t care about you. I don’t care about your sorrow or need. I don’t care about anyone that can’t help me. Why should I? Why should you? The world is dog eat dog. I want to rise to the top and hope that the evolutionary process doesn’t swallow me. When a bear chases people, you don’t have to be the fastest, you just don’t want to be slowest. Without Jesus I feel nothing if you are the slowest when the bear charges.
That’s the cruel, harsh world without Christ in me.
With Jesus, things are radically different.
I purposefully go out of my way to help the elderly on my street with snow plowing. I give financially. I was taught to give 10%. Robyn and I have for the entirety of our marriage, and are increasing that percentage annually instead of increasing our “consumer footprint.” I spent one and a half years going to my local prison to help with a reading program. And every time I help and have the opportunity to share the reason for the kindness, I mention Jesus’ work in my life. Jesus wants all I have, I’m working on it. But I can quantify the fruit of obedience through these expressions.
He’s the reason I do it.
Without Jesus, I suck. I’m a jerk.
There are countless charities in the world. Tons and tons of them. Some do really good work, and some do not so well with the resources provided. Let’s take a look at a few that are transforming the world because of Jesus.
Pathway to Freedom
I have a friend, Nick. Nick was a jerk. Nick sucked without Jesus. Jesus caught up to Nick and now Nick is great. More than great.
A former felon, Nick was in prison for years before encountering Jesus in a program that works with inmates to rehabilitate them for a successful future upon completion of their sentence. Now Nick works for the program that brought him freedom in Jesus. I know for Nick without a relationship with Jesus there would be little to no incentive to be kind or caring for his community. With Jesus, however, the world is a difference place because Nick has responded to Christ’s love in him by loving his neighbor. Just look at the website’s mission and vision and you will see that the mission of Pathway to Freedom is inseparable from the mission of Jesus. They are two sides of the same coin.
You can check them out here: http://www.ptfprison.org/
1.7 million. That’s how many children are being taken care of through Compassion International. An overtly Christian organization, their mission is to “release children from poverty in Jesus name.” Robyn and I have been sponsors of Mackentoch, through Compassion, in Haiti for 9 years, and Robyn co-sponsored him with a friend for 3 years before that.
My friend Sam Hoover, @samhoover on Twitter, is the Social Media Manager for Compassion in Colorado Springs. Time and time again I see posts about how through Compassion International lives are changed. First through relief of people’s felt needs, then through redemption through real need of Jesus. On top of this, Compassion is a 4-star charity according to Charity Navigators, an organization that determines which charities are doing the best work with the donator’s dollar.
Visit Compassion here: http://www.compassion.com/about/about-us.htm
Visit Charity Navigators here: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=3555#.Vv16fPkrI2w
Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge
This is a hometown story. In my very own backyard lies one of our nation’s finest and most successful drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs in our nation! Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge is on the forefront of helping people in my neighborhood confront and overcome their addictions through outstanding programs, counselors and the message of Jesus’ love for them.
Once a year MATC goes to my parents church in Osceola, WI to sing, share testimonies and eat barbecue. It’s a fantastic day. It’s hard to find a dry eye in the place. What’s most incredible is what large majority of people, who are now singing about their risen savior and new life, had once hurt the community they formerly lived in. It is the prodigal son story time and time again. More than once I can recall participants in MATC telling of how they had stolen, threaten, attacked and destroyed the town they are now sharing their story of victory in.
At the end of each story is the declaration of how Jesus has renewed their mind and softened their heart, so that they can now enter into the new life; the best life.
Visit Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge here: http://www.mntc.org/about/
What Does Jesus Say?
For me, and each of these organizations, our acts of kindness are a response to Jesus. His love is our love, his kindness is our kindness. And vice-versa. Our love is his love, and our kindness is his kindness. Two sides of the same coin. For a Christian doing good and salvation go hand in hand. They are inseparable.
But why? Why can’t a Christian do good separate from Jesus?
The progression goes as such. Redemption, righteousness, response. We are saved, made righteous, then respond in action.
Jesus calls us
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Who isn’t tired? Who isn’t worn out? Who doesn’t have a million things going and feels the weight of the world on their shoulders?
Does life, or guilt, or suffering weigh on your back like a burden? Jesus beckons all to come. All are burdened. Jesus wants to sojourn with us. Jesus isn’t calling us to the easy, comfortable life. But to do life with him.
Jesus sends us
Matthew 28:18 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.”
After we come to Jesus, he sends us. He wants to give us newness of life so that we can invite others to the party. Life with Jesus isn’t a drag. Church isn’t a drag. If your Jesus, or your church, is a drag then you’ve got the wrong Jesus and the wrong Church. The Church is made alive in Christ, and it is a celebration of the resurrected life.
This life is a gift (John 3:16), but it isn’t meant to be hoarded. It’s meant to be shared. So Jesus sends his followers out to share this life.
There is no way to separate a Christian from evangelism. Two sides of the same coin. A Christian who doesn’t isn’t obeying Jesus. And obedience matters. Why? Cause He enables us to.
Jesus enables us
John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commands.”
For Jesus, the only response to following him is obedience. Obedience to care for the widow and the orphan, the naked and the homeless, the prisoner and the mentally imprisoned. Jesus calls us to care for them.
Time and time again you will see world tragedy happen, and while the response financially is incredible, it is often Christians who are first responders to international disaster.
Just take a look at Convoy of Hope (Link Here). Convoy is boots on the ground when the worst becomes reality. They are faith-based. Their work is a response to Jesus saying, “If you love me, keep my commands.” (And yes, it only says faith-based but they are a Christian organization as relayed to me from a department head).
Easter weekend 10 young adults joined me to put on a Candy Grab at a local school. A Candy Grab is a fancy way of saying “Easter Egg Hunt.” 10 young adults who got up early to set up. They skipped sleeping to be helpers. Why? Jesus.
As we ran around the school yard with parents and kids gathering eggs to “Kid’s Bop 80’s Gold,” smiles jumped from ear to ear. I’m sure we broke world records for insulin spikes. Laughing and screaming and fun was shared. Not once did we have a discussion on strategy of how to share about Jesus. But when parents asked we shared.
We’re not standing on a corner with a bullhorn blasting condemnation or hate. We’re raking leaves and inviting people into a new life. We’re not giving our money to build mega buildings or pay for pastor’s planes (though that happens, it will NEVER EVER happen in a church I lead). We’re giving our money to buy stuff to share with the community; to serve our neighbor.
We’re not here for us, we’re here for Jesus and our neighbors. We hope you’ll attend the party.