By John A. Smith
As Christians we have a unique opportunity to touch the lives of others. It has rightly been said that Christianity is a “One-Another” religion. We are not to look out merely for our own personal interests, “but also for the interest of others” (Phil. 2:4). The practicing of “One-Another Religion” – looking out for the interests of others – should lead us to be involved in the lives of others and in our communities.
The Proverbs writer saw the benefit that active righteous people could have in their communities and declared them to be a blessing. “When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices; and when the wicked perish, there is shouting. By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked” (Prov. 11:10-11). “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). In order for this blessing to be experienced, the righteous must let their presence be known. There is no blessing when the righteous sit idly by and keep their influence to themselves.
Jesus acknowledged the beneficial influence of the righteous when, at the conclusion of the “Beatitudes,” he declared that those who possess these characteristics should also exhibit them. He declared that they are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matt. 5:13-16). He further said that we are not to “light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand. . . Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:15-16).
Jesus calls upon the righteous to uncork their salt shakers and let their savor be known. Just as salt was an indispensable household commodity in Palestine, so Jesus declares that the children of God are equally indispensable in their communities. They can be more than a savoring influence. They can also be a “moral disinfectant” in communities which would otherwise be left to degenerate values. Christ-like people need to look beyond themselves to the interests of others and the community and let their savoring disinfectant be effective.
As lights of the world, we do not produce light ourselves. But as “moons” we merely reflect the light of the Son to the darkened earth. Many of our communities are starved and groping for this guiding light. As “reflections of the Savior” the righteous need to put their light in a conspicuous place to “give light to all who are in the house” to the glory of the Father. As Christians we must be involved people.
A Christian’s involvement in neighborhoods, communities and schools should come from a sincere love for others and the saving of their souls. One of the characteristics of love which Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 13:5 is an interest in others. Because he loved others Paul said that he was willing to “spend and be spent” (1 Cor. 12:15). Motivated by a desire to save souls, Paul sought not his own but other’s well-being and not his own profit but the profit of many “that they may be saved” (1 Cor. 10:24,33). Involvement with others will open doors of opportunity, which otherwise might never open, whereby we may reach them with the Gospel.
Involvement with others, “salt shaking,” and “light-shining” will also provide the Christian with opportunities to glorify God. Our lights are to shine for that very purpose (Matt. 5:16). If we are actively involved with others doing good work, “they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God” (1 Pet. 2:12).
Christ-like people should find no lack of motivation for involvement and community service.
One Christian stepped forward in a local school district to volunteer his service on a citizen’s committee which was to draft a “Family Life” (sex education) program. As a result of his efforts, that program is being built upon solid biblical morals and not the permissive values of groups like Planned Parenthood. In the philosophy statement which he helped to draft, abortion is condemned, pre-marital sexual abstinence is promoted, and contraception is to be taught only within the context of marriage. Christians can have an impact!
All over the country I hear of parents working wit Little League Baseball, Soccer, local schools and other agencies who successfully keep these activities from interfering with mid-week Bible studies. There are those who work tirelessly to help promote modest apparel for sports and school activities. Those who help see that creationism gets a fair shake in classrooms provide a much needed service. I am always encouraged to hear of godly parents who volunteer their time as coaches and team-parents thereby having an opportunity to interject spiritual values into these activities. God bless these active, “one-another,” “light-shining” people! Our communities need more of them.
Others are serving in more quiet and less noticeable ways. Many of God’s children all across the country are involved in helping elderly neighbors, caring for the sick, visiting nursing homes, helping provide for the less fortunate, and countless other thoughtful ways. They make themselves available to neighbors for any service that they might be able to render. They are truly a blessing and servant of others.
It is my prayer that more Christians would see the need for community involvement and use their God-given talents for the service of others. May we all have the spirit of our Lord and see ourselves as those who have “not come to be served, but to serve.”
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 11, pp. 321, 340
June 1, 1989