Millions of us are saved by “locals,” and sadly, all too often we are blind, and do not see the caring hand of God working in and through others. The point is that God chooses to work in and through and as people – through Samaritans, through maidens and as shepherds, through fishermen and tentmakers and as missionaries. The Bible makes this crystal clear that God does much of God’s best work in and through regular folks, folks like you and me.
Jesus knew this well, and that’s why he called disciples to follow him, to learn from him, and ultimately to mimic (to copy) his self-giving and sacrificial love. He taught his disciples that the way to be God’s servants of sacrificial love, of compassionate love, of gracious and unconditional love for all people, is to not arrogantly grab for the crown, but rather to humbly choose the way of the cross.
We see this in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus asks his disciples, “For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?” (Matthew 16:26) Jesus is saying that we are to claim who we truly are: We are the image of God. God is love, so we are to be that image and likeness. We are for love and we are made to love. We are children of God whose purpose in life is to proclaim and do acts of sacrificial love, compassionate love, unconditional love and mercy to all. Jesus is our model for all humanity.
There was a wealthy noblewoman who had grown tired of life. She had everything one could wish for except happiness and contentment. She always had to be perfect in every way, ranging from how her grades were like in school to how she looked in appearance every day. She said to herself, “I am weary of life. I’m going to the river, and there end my life.”
As she walked along, she felt a little hand tugging at her skirt. Looking down, she saw a frail little boy who pleaded, “Please, lady, there are seven of us, and we are starving to death.” The lady thought to herself, “Why not help this wretched family? After all, I have the means, and I will have no more use for riches when I’m gone.”
Following the little boy, she entered a scene of misery, sickness, and want. She opened her purse and dumped the contents onto a table. The family members were extremely pleased, full of joy and gratitude. The noblewoman said, “I can do even more than this. I’ll return tomorrow, and share with you more of the good things which God has given to me in abundance!”
She rejoiced that the child had found her. Never again did she think of ending her life, which was now filled with meaning and purpose. For the first time, she understood the reason for her wealth.
We think giving our all to Christ is like taking a $1,000 bill and laying it on the table – ‘Here’s my life, dear God. I’m giving it all to you.’
But the reality for most of us is that God sends us to the bank, and has us cash in the $1,000 for quarters. We go through life putting out 25 cents here and 50 cents there. Listen to the neighbor children’s troubles rather than say, “get out of here.” Give a bottle of water to someone working in the yard. Help someone change a flat tire in their driveway.
Usually giving our life to God isn’t glorious. It is done in all those little acts of love, 25 cents at a time. Ask God to show you how you can spend your life well.
Rev. Tom Cici is the pastor at First Christian Church of Hoopeston (502 E. Main St). Please go to www.fcchoopeston.org for inspirational sermons and much more.