FIRST-PERSON: More than good deeds
PENSACOLA, Fla. (BP) -- Have you noticed? "Doing good" is in style.
It may be called "paying it forward" or community service. Clubs do it to help their community. Universities or businesses may encourage students or employees to do it. Fundraisers, marathons and events support worthy causes. Corporations often donate chunks of cash to charities. Volunteering may even enhance college entry or job resumes. People like those who "give back."
"Good deeds" may be trending, but doing good in Jesus' name is ongoing. For Christians, there's nothing "random" about acts of kindness.
Christians are called to do good with a purpose: to point others to Jesus and ultimately to share Him with those who don't know Him. The goal of our community project, ministry group or mission trip is not to enhance our own reputation; it's much bigger and more eternal than that.
So you give food to the hungry or help neighbors during disaster in Jesus' name. You intentionally share Jesus with someone at the gym while you lift weights. You help plant a church so more people can know Him. You personally represent Jesus through your community involvement. Instead of observing what a great person you are, people notice what a great God you serve.
The church is the only organization in the world with a specific charge to be evangelistic in everything we do. "[W]e are Christ's ambassadors," Scripture tells us. "God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, 'Come back to God!'" (2 Corinthians 5:20 NLT).
Summertime is a great time for your church or small group to get missional with the intention of sharing Jesus. Try some of these fresh ideas:
-- Add monthly, quarterly or ongoing mission projects to your small group or Sunday School class. Our class "adopted" a low-income nursing home to send pen pal notes and do occasional hands-on projects.
-- Add hands-on ministry to your women's group meetings. We added an hour to the weekday classes and mission groups for ministry teams to serve our community. Attendance mushroomed.
-- Plan a summer outreach project. For example, Olive Baptist in Pensacola, Fla., has a plan to knock on every door within a few blocks of the church to personally invite neighbors to worship. The Florida Baptist Convention challenged churches to have beach baptisms. Hundreds were baptized publicly, and many onlookers were pointed to Jesus.
So our "pay it forward" becomes "pay it upward" and our "random acts of kindness" are never random. They're purposeful. A lost world outside our church doors needs to see and hear God's plan for their lives. We must continually keep Christ as our goal in missions -- for all people to know Him and call Him Lord.
"And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father" (Colossians 3:17 NLT).