I recently visited a couple at an independent living community in Ft. Worth. They had been a member of a church where I had served for several years. The man has leukemia, but he’s facing it down with a buoyant faith and active lifestyle. In fact, he and his wife just returned from a one-month trip to Florida!
At one point in the conversation, this remarkable man of God said, “We’ve been visiting a local congregation and I just have to get involved somehow — maybe help out in the food pantry.” This was his passion at the church where I served as an associate pastor. He and a dedicated team operated a mission that provided groceries, clothing, job assistance, furniture, emergency financial help and free Bibles for people in need.
I knew that this saint didn’t simply want to perform religious busy work. He wasn’t primarily motivated by “giving back to the community” or doing feel-good charity. His desire bubbled up from a deep wellspring of love for God.
What a shame when churchgoers do not heed their calling or fail to activate their spiritual gifts. What a tragedy when Christians do willy-nilly service projects with little enthusiasm or out of a sense of dry obligation. The Bible teaches that believers have been “graced and gifted,” given abilities by God to “build up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). This isn’t about getting more people in the pews or being the best church in the neighborhood, but simply doing what God has called us to do. When we serve with joy and energy, the church naturally becomes a magnet for others. It grows in spirit. A diverse group of people become one in Christ, letting their light shine for the glory of the Father.
Thanks to an 85-year old man, I learned these lessons all over again.