Church is considered a traditional event in most communities in middle Georgia. Look around Monroe County for a bit, and you will see several churches on the landscape. For the most part, all of these churches seem healthy, but if you look at the population of most churches verses the population of our community, you will see that there are several that are unchurched.
Why is that? All churches want to display their ministries and programs to address a searching world, but does that address a community seeking something more? What should we be doing so that the world will see the power of God on display in our church?
Consider the following point as a possibility that may address a desire from a hungry community. As churches, we need to be zealous in display of our good deeds. We need to be doing good things for other people. The church’s job is to live so that people can see that God is real. So, what does that life look like? And the answer again and again is that it looks like good deeds. In Matthew 5:16 it states:
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
According to Jesus the good deeds of his disciples are the window in this world through which people come to see and adore the glory of God. If that is the case we should exhibit what it says in Ephesians 2:10:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
God made us to do good deeds. We exist as Christians for that purpose. And this is not at all in conflict with the first chapter of Ephesians, which says that we exist “for the praise of God’s glory,” because Jesus showed us that it is precisely the good deeds of his disciples which convince people that our heavenly Father is glorious. Part of the joy for Jesus today is looking down and seeing local churches zealous, eager, hungry to do good deeds.
When a local church is busy thinking up creative ways to do good to people, then Jesus has not died in vain and the wisdom of God is being displayed. And when a church forgets that it exists for others and for God, it becomes in-grown and self-satisfied and can go on year after year like a social club with a religious veneer. That category of dying churches DOES exist.
But if we do good deeds for real needs in the name of Jesus—if we live by that motto, we will be a great church. New people will want to be a part of that. Glory will be given to God because He deserves it! We will not be self-serving, but kingdom building! And not by our works, but by His Grace! By His power, not ours!
We are coming out of an era in American church life in which it has been possible for evangelical Christians to give a tithe to the church and then devote themselves financially to building the good life and all the while keeping a clear conscience. It was an era in which for conservative evangelicals ethics meant primarily the avoidance of certain sins rather than the pursuit of good deeds. It was an era in which well-fed, well-clothed, well-housed, well-entertained evangelicals were able to maintain a distance between themselves and the misery and destitution of other cities and many third world countries. That era is ending whether we want it to or not. America is no longer what it was.
Western Theology has crippled the church into prosperity fallacy and is devoid of the hard teachings of the truth of God’s Word. Galatians 6:10 says: “As we have opportunity let us do good to all men, especially to those of the household of faith.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15 says, “See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.” Romans 12:20 says, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink.” And Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”
These scriptures are speaking in plain words; Feed people the Truth and give it to ALL PEOPLE!
If God wills it, our churches will become great servant churches filled with good deeds in the name of Jesus. We must display the wisdom and power of God with a desire to serve and love others that moves people to glorify our Father in heaven.
Serve others! Do good deeds to all people, not just our own. Show God’s radical and relentless love with His Grace and Mercy in EVERYTHING you do!
Rev. Jeff Dean is the senior pastor of Sanctuary Baptist Church, 12643 Highway 87, Forsyth. The Pastor’s Corner is sponsored by the Monroe County Ministerial Association, which meets on the second Thursday of each month at 8:30 a.m. at Christ United Methodist Church, 417 N. Frontage Road, Forsyth.