For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 NASB
What gives your life meaning or motivates you?
That was a question on a questionnaire sent to me by a new doctor with whom I was scheduled for an appointment. Usually, they want to know what meds I’m taking and my level of pain on a scale of 1 to 10. At first, I was kind of taken aback by the question coming from a doc who is not a psychiatrist. I could have responded ”to play a better game of pickleball”. But, knowing it was a serious question, after some thought, I wrote the following:
I’m not here (on earth) by accident but on purpose to do as much as possible to affect others and society in a positive way which is part of the mandate of my faith.
Later, I thought this was not a particularly insightful or strong answer but at least I disclosed that my faith was my prime raison d’etre (reason for being).
So, what is my mandate?
In a word, I believe my mandate is to be God’s hands and feet in His counterculture work, facilitating His resurrection power of peace and change wherever it’s needed. In his recent book Hope in Times of Fear, pastor and author Timothy Keller talks about purpose:
The resurrection means that the liberating, repairing power of God is here and now, through the risen Christ and his presence in our lives through the Holy Spirit. We have not been saved just to be safe but saved in order to serve.
Specifically, my mandate and conviction are that we Jesus followers – not just those of us who are members of Creekside, but all Christians everywhere – should take our place in the public square debating the secularists about the important social issues of our times.
Of course, we believers may not agree politically and ideologically on everything. But, we have a common bond, and we have a common message of hope based on the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection. The apostle Paul described our common message to the Corinthians:
And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So, we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. (2 Cor 5:19-20).
The social issues I speak of are race, justice in giving people their due, advocating for the oppressed and the rights of all human beings made in the image of God, care for immigrants and “others” who are not part of our tribe, and finally, just to name a few, the hate and vitriol which continually threaten our democracy. This is our modern social setting for the message of reconciliation in Christ. God may not care about our political divisions, but I’m guessing He cares about the condition of the hearts and souls of our politicians and all who are affected by politics.
Pastor Keller writes that sometimes God holds families, groups, and nations corporately responsible for sins of other individuals even though they did not personally commit them. Yet, despite the reality of corporate responsibility and systemic evil, the Bible puts the greatest weight on individual responsibility. And what is our responsibility? Keller writes:
For Christianity is a fighting religion…It…thinks that a great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made, and that God insists on our putting them right again.
Could Christians be active agents for change while avoiding political polarization, and the rancor that creates gridlock and blocks wholesome change? The mandate is huge.
Keller quotes author N.T. Wright:
The message of the resurrection is that this world matters! That the injustices and pains of this present world must now be addressed with the news that healing, justice, and love have won…. If Easter means Jesus Christ is only raised in a spiritual sense –(then) it is only about me and finding a new dimension in my personal spiritual life. But if Jesus Christ is truly risen from the dead, Christianity becomes good news for the whole world – news which warms our hearts precisely because it isn’t just about warming hearts. Easter means that in a world where injustice, violence, and degradation are endemic, God is not prepared to tolerate such things – and that we will work and plan, with all the energy of God, to implement victory of Jesus over them all.
So here I am, God’s hands and feet, serving a God-sized mandate. My prayer is this: “God, with Your help, may this motivation stay with me and all of us at Creekside.”