Christ Is Faithful to Ordinary People
God’s redemptive mission is vast, touching every part of life in a fallen world. Jesus came to rescue rebel sinners and to reverse all the effects of the curse—to bring justice to the oppressed, mercy to the needy, healing to the broken—and he’s called his people to join this mission.
It feels daunting, though. When we consider giving our lives to the mission of Christ, we might think of Christian heroes like Charles Spurgeon or Amy Carmichael. But we’re not heroes, we’re just ordinary people. What in the world are we supposed to do?
Well, we don’t need to feel the pressure to be “world-changers.” The accomplishment of the mission rests on Christ’s faithfulness, not ours. However, he has equipped each one of us to show his mercy to a lost and suffering world. Here are five ways we can do that in everyday life.
1. Pray for God’s kingdom to come.
Jesus instructed us to pray to the Father, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” As people who are tempted to rely on our own strength and abilities, prayer doesn’t feel very active. Yet prayer is an irreplaceable part of the mission!
We can consistently pray for the spread of the gospel among all nations—for God to send out laborers to unreached tribes and hostile regions. We also have friends, family, and neighbors who don’t know Christ, and while we can tell them of his gift of salvation, we cannot save them. But we can intercede to the God who melts hearts of stone and brings the dead to life. Nobody is too far from his reach.
Likewise, we can’t ensure that the ethics of God’s good kingdom are applied on this earth. We can’t end wars, control corrupt powers, eradicate poverty, or prevent floods or famines. But we can pray to our reigning Lord. He alone has the power to change the hearts of kings and rulers. He alone can bring harvest where there’s hunger, justice where there’s corruption, and healing where there’s pain. Our prayers are effective because they are heard by a mighty and righteous King.
2. Work with the mission in mind.
God has sovereignly given each of us different capacities to care for the needs of others. “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10, emphasis mine). Consider your work context. Whether you’re an accountant, a waiter, a stay-at-home mom, an engineer, or a police officer, there are opportunities to do good to others for the sake of God’s glory.
Some of us see direct ways our careers coincide with God’s redemptive mission. If you’re in the medical field, tending the sick reflects the heart of the Savior who sees and cares for the physically afflicted. It also points to a future and better reality where there is no more sickness, pain, or death. If you’re a teacher, caring for students who’ve experienced neglect, exclusion, bullying, or the pain of a broken home reflects Christ’s love for children. Patiently helping students who have special needs or learning disabilities testifies to their worth as image-bearers of God.
We also shouldn’t overlook the indirect ways our work can be used for God’s mission. My husband owns an online store that sells high-end audio equipment. It’s not exactly a vocation that seems relevant to engaging the redemptive mission of Christ. However, his business donates a portion of all profits to a Christian organization in India that provides housing, education, and discipleship to abandoned and vulnerable girls. While these Indian brothers and sisters are being faithful in their context, my husband is seeking to be faithful in his. All of us can work with the mission in mind.
3. Have the lonely over for lasagna.
Jesus said, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:12–14). Jesus’s point isn’t that we can’t ever have our friends and family over, but that we’re especially called to practice hospitality to people who are overlooked—those who can’t do anything for us in return.
I want to spotlight two specific groups who tend to experience the suffering of loneliness: the elderly and the refugee.
Living in a society that values people based on their utility, the elderly are often ignored or cast aside as irrelevant. Christians are called to bear witness to a better reality—one which recognizes the worth of all people and honors the elderly, no matter the state of their aging minds or bodies. Do you have a widowed neighbor? Consider inviting her over for dinner. Do you live near a nursing home? Consider visiting—maybe on a weekly or monthly basis—to build relationships with those who don’t have family nearby.
When we live in sacrificial generosity towards others, we can point to the one who gave his own life to save us.
You may also have people in your community who are refugees. Driven here by dangerous circumstances, they are separated from their former communities and left to process their suffering in isolation. Will we take the uncomfortable step of inviting them over for dinner? Are we willing to navigate language barriers and cultural differences to help them feel less alone?
Brother and sisters, our willingness to consistently extend hospitality to the overlooked, forgotten, needy, and ignored is crucial if we’re to show the world the welcoming and lavish love of Christ.
4. Make a plan to give.
There are needs everywhere, and you won’t be able to meet most of them. Orphaned children need sponsoring, Bibles need translating, worthy charities need funding. Problems like hunger, human-trafficking, and homelessness are expensive to address. It’s overwhelming to know where to start, but don’t let that deter you. Ask the Holy Spirit to burden your heart with specific needs, to give you compassion for specific people. God has equipped you to be generous, whether through your want (like the poor widow) or through your plenty.
We won’t drift into generous living, though. We need to prioritize it. Think about your financial situation and consider how you can set money aside for the purpose of giving. Come up with a plan, make it a line item in your budget, and set goals. You’ll face temptations that hinder you from sacrificial giving, so pray for a generous heart—one that isn’t motivated by guilt or obligation, but by the transforming love of Christ. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). When we live in sacrificial generosity towards others, we can point to the one who gave his own life to save us.
5. Prioritize Christian fellowship.
Finally, as we personally seek to engage Christ’s mission, it’s vital that we prioritize our fellowship with one another too (especially in the context of the local church). The mission isn’t about you or me or even the most noble cause, it’s about Jesus Christ. His reign, his righteousness, his kingdom. Christ is the head, and we—the body—are designed to function together under his rule.
We need each other to accomplish the work he’s ordained for us. When we’re weary, we need encouragement. When we’re uncertain, we need wisdom. When we’re tempted to sin, we need godly reproof and exhortation. Our effectiveness for the mission is intrinsically tied to our fellowship with one another. So don’t neglect to meet together, but rather “stir up one another to love and good works” (Heb. 10:24).
Amy DiMarcangelo is the author of Go and Do Likewise: A Call to Follow Jesus in a Life of Mercy and Mission.
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