Monday, June 07, 2010

The Truth Project - Community & Involvement: God Cares, Do I?

For this final installment of our “worldview tour” we will gaze upon the face of God as it is revealed to us in the last of our six social spheres: the sphere of Community and Involvement. Here, perhaps more than in any other sphere or field of inquiry, we will have an opportunity to draw near to the Creator and learn what it is that has compelled Him to draw near to us. We will find that the God of the Scriptures is in fact the Lord of the lonely, the Savior of the outcast, the Defender of the defenseless, and the Sustainer of all who find themselves in need. Our call is to become like Him by discovering what it means to not only love Him, but to love our neighbor.

Involvement in this sphere – the sphere of community outreach, practical service, and active love expressed in Christian charity – has been the distinguishing hallmark of the Church for many centuries. For a number of reasons, says Dr. Tackett, it has fallen into neglect in our day. Not only that, but the general call for involvement in culture at large, in all of the spheres, has actually become a matter of debate in some contemporary Christian circles. And yet a careful examination of Scripture will reveal that believers have a mandate to reclaim their place in this important arena. We dare not, like Jonah, try to escape God’s call to be involved. Over and over again, the Scripture clearly presents the perplexing reality that God entrusts us with carrying out His mission and purpose with the world. We cannot deny the link and dependency God has created between His divine plan and the faithfulness with which His followers embody biblical truth in their behavior and reflect the heart of Jesus in their lives.

What is the heart of Jesus? This is not a difficult question to answer. In Matthew 11:28-29 Christ tells us plainly that He is gentle and humble in heart. The heart of Jesus stands radically opposed to the principle of “survival of the fittest.” It identifies closely with the plight of the weak and disenfranchised. It is a heart that compels Him to wash the feet of others and lay down His life for His friends. In doing these things, Jesus not only becomes our example – He also reveals to us the deepest concerns of His Father in heaven (John 14:9).

In the final analysis, we must realize that this is why Jesus sums up the entire law in two “Great Commandments”: “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-40). Here at the end of our tour we come back again to the great fountainhead and source of all truth, the divine nature itself. “God is love,” writes the apostle John, “and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). And love, in the practical sense, means being a good neighbor to the people around us – like the Samaritan in Christ’s famous parable.

If God cares enough to get involved with the needs of people, we need to care and get involved as well. This is the thrust of Dr. Tackett’s message. So forceful is his presentation of this concept that it is almost certain to impact participants at a deep emotional level. When it does, they will probably ask the question that has been asked so many times before: “What should I do?” At this point it will be important to emphasize the thought that active love is not a matter of following a “to-do checklist” or establishing a system of “rules” or “simple steps.” Instead, it is a question of developing an attitude of humility, openness, sensitivity, and creative compassion. It is a matter of using our God-given gifts and talents in the service of others and pursuing the passions He has instilled in our hearts.

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I'll see you Thursday!