The Challenge of Good Works

Feb. 4, 2021.

I have noticed that it is rather difficult to engage in meaningful good works. It’s far easier to talk about good works, than it is to show up and actually do them. They are not as readily available in society as we’d wish. Occasionally, we can help the proverbial “old lady” cross the street, or help reach something off the top shelf for someone at the grocery store, but those efforts falls short of something that is trying to climb out of our soul – especially as we mature in Christ. How do we engage more deeply in the world of Good Works?

#JesusStories: In Matthew 5:14ff, Jesus noted that nobody in their right mind would ever light a lamp and then hide it under a basket. Rather, they would put it on a stand so that it gives light to all who are in the house. Jesus then used that image to reveal how our lives are like those oil lamps, and that the light showing forth from our lives are to be in the form of unusual Good Works.

There is much for us to unpack in these three little verses. Initially, the oil within us that causes our lives to shine is not our own – this oil is the presence of the Spirit who lives in us and flows out of us. This is something different than the kind of works we can enable through our strength, our personality, our gifts, and our winsome ways. Neither are these the kinds of works that someone can do by merely practicing random acts of kindness. The kind of works that flow from the Spirit are on the level of what we saw flowing from the life of Christ: healing, prophetic insight, prayer with authority, profound sacrifice, etc. These are the Good Works Jesus was talk about – the kind that causes society to say, “Wow, only God could help them do that!”

One of the reasons Rome turned to Christianity in the Fourth Century was because of the contrast between the Christians and the Roman citizens during the back-to-back plagues that besieged their cities. Out of a sense of self-survival the Romans packed up, left their sick family members behind, and headed for the isolated countryside. However, when they returned home after the plagues subsided, they found their homes swept, in order, family members nursed back to health, and those who died were buried with honor. All of this because the Christians refused to leave the sick behind to die alone; the Spirit within them called them to stay where healing and comfort was needed. Such sacrificial Good Works caused the returning Romans to say, “Wow, only God could help them do that!” Christian history is filled with mere people engaging in Works that are simply beyond human capacity. May that heritage of Jesus-sized Good Works continue throughout our lives. Lord help us!

#DinnerChurchQuotes: The communal reality of holy living, mutual support, and sacrificial service in the New Testament is called koinonia. -Darrell Guder

#PracticalStuff: Jesus Tables are ripe environments for Jesus Works. Setting a table, eating with strangers, praying healing over the broken, sacrificing for new friends, and telling the life-giving stories of Christ naturally enfolds us in the kinds of Good Works spoken of in Matt. 5. So next week at Dinner Church, you go and Work the Works of Him who has sent you!

Blessings & Boldness,

Verlon

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