THE REV. CHARLES?GUTHA,
Faith Lutheran Church, 2005 Burdick Expy. E, (Pioneer Village Church), Minot
"My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." These words of John F. Kennedy still ring true. In the church, they ring even truer.
However, because salvation cost us nothing, we become confused. God did everything for our salvation: nothing we do, earns our way to heaven. We cannot give enough. We are not good enough. There is no scale balancing our good deeds against bad deeds. The only way we receive everlasting life is by believing that Jesus is God. He lived the full human experience from birth to death. Then, rising from the dead, he invites us to become his children.
Through his spirit, he calls us, convicts us and convinces us that we need him. Jesus accomplished our salvation through his death and resurrection.
However, after we accept his forgiveness the story changes. He fills us with power enabling us to please him through faith, love and works. James says, "Faith without works is dead," in effect saying, 'My fellow believers, ask not what God can do for us, ask what we can do for God:' Before, we were dead. What are we doing now that we are alive?
He showed his incredible love by creating trees, birds, animals, oceans and fish: Everything is for our benefit. Even after Adam rebelled, he provided clothing and sacrifices for protection and forgiveness. Then he left heaven to become our sacrifice. Suffering and dying for us, he conquered death. Rising from the dead, he sends his spirit who lives within us, giving us power and assurance of our everlasting life - not in the future, but today - with a healthy and vital relationship with him.
Although he rose physically, he no longer lives on earth. His spirit lives inside us. This means that we are his hands, his feet and his voice. What are we doing for him? We are his body. He gives us everything. What are we doing in return?
No one shows a greater love than dying for another. Jesus died for us. Are we willing to live for Him?
An e-mail says "Christians are facing the worst atrocities of our lifetime. Women enslaved, children beheaded, Christians marked for slaughter. This is genocide."
I recently sat next to the ambassador from South Chad. He told us of the millions killed in his country.
What are we willing to do for Christ? Pray? Read? How serious is our Christianity? Do we have a selfish faith: A mail order Christianity? "Look what God gave me" or are we, as James said, "Slaves of our God and Master, Jesus Christ"?
He gave us everything. What are we, his children, giving in return? How serious is our faith?