One good deed, one genuinely good deed done with honor, especially if it is done at great personal cost defies a world of evil!
It claims our attention and we look at one another and believe—if we’re blessed with a heart still sensitive—we believe and we realize that God has not abandoned us to evil and gloom.
We believe that evil is not invincible, we believe it should not be thought invincible, we believe it should be defied and in every way available to us we will oppose it and live with brave, even gallant, hearts in a war against it.
The gallant Lord Jesus having joined us in the war and took the lead in it went to the cross believing that this was where His Father’s heart and purpose led Him and though it troubled His soul He gladly pushed His way past friends and family who stood in His way toward it knowing that what He had been doing and was about to do was to destroy an alien world and its alien tyrant to glorify His Holy Father and liberate prisoners from that tyranny.
And more than that, astonishing as it is, He believed that there were thousands and more thousands that would follow Him into that war when they saw what He was doing. “And, I, if I am lifted up I will win the hearts of men and women, girls and boys from everywhere and in every age.”
We talk much, we who speak, about the evil in the world. We tell no lie when we say with John that the entire world lies in the evil one but we’re not to over-read John’s statement. God has ceaselessly been at work in the hearts of the human family and has kept goodness alive even in the hearts of those who don’t know to credit their health, their friends, kindness, gallantry, patience and self-giving to the one true God who is the source of all and anything that is good in this world.
Christ knows well the nature and extent of the evil and heartless spirit that has usurped God’s place in the hearts of humans and yet He still walks up to people busy with their own affairs in life and tells them that if they really want to live they should get up and follow Him. This He says believing that they will–and they did and they do! “Crucify me, He said, and that won’t be the end of Me, people will see and hear of it and they will come flocking to me in their millions–and they have done and they do!”
To His first disciples Jesus said, “You didn’t choose me; I chose you.” There’s something about that call, that being “chosen” and the sense that “this is my destiny to which I have been called.”
During the wars many have told us of those they saw who were picked for a very dangerous mission. Before setting out, they tell us, the chosen would scribble notes or whisper some message to be sent to a mother or someone beloved in case the worst should happen. Usually there was a certain strain and nervousness showing on their face and yet, they say, there was something of a light and sparkle in their eyes, their heads were held high, sometimes there was laughter and a dismissal of the danger ahead. Chosen! And willing to be chosen and with it a thrill, edged with some sense of pride that they were chosen! We hear such stories and think them wonderful. We believe then that there is more in the world than crass selfishness and heartlessness.
Paul in Ephesians 1 says, ”He chose us…” Never that He coerced us, bullied us, forced us or shanghaied us! God comes seeking and finding and believing that if only His call is made known that people would flock to Him. And they do it, men and women, girls and boys, entire families, sometimes entire villages. But they flock to God only when it is the call of God they hear. They’re called out of their fear, their boredom, their daily grind and life without adventure into His presence, chosen for a peculiar exploit. They’re already burdened with so much and yet they’re asked to make a commitment to a God whose heart is saddened by the anguish of His human family and He wants them to be assured that He sees all and that He will right all wrongs. And the astonishing things is, that in each generation there are millions who already greatly burdened still say, “Count me in! What will I say to them?”
And the God whose eyes shine in admiration for them says, “Tell them this,” He says, “tell them I’m coming, tell them I want them to join Me in spreading the word to their friends and enemies that I am coming to right all wrongs.”
Chosen to engage in “war” in the most glorious fashion, they come; the wounded, the hurt, the people somewhat afraid of showing themselves cowards and yet showing up on the line; chosen to proclaim freedom from Sin and guilt and lifeless life, chosen to proclaim a Message from God to all the nations, a warning to all the impenitent servants of the prince of this world and a message to all the abused and plundered that One is coming and He is coming with love and fairness. There’s a new world coming! And those currently “chosen” by the Gospel bear witness to that—they are the visible expression of “the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Today we look at some honorable business and we’re thrilled. Sometimes we picture ourselves as doing some brave thing against tough opposition and we can’t help feeling good—shouldn’t regret feeling good. Now and then we engage with a group in a lovely enterprise, we toil at it long, patiently, returning to it when we for a while were too weary to stay with it—we return to it, determined not to leave it until it’s finished. It’s done! There are happy smiles all around, there’s a sense of fulfillment, other things we failed at, failures that left us a bit ashamed because we now think we ended it too soon, didn’t give it enough. But that is now pushed into the background. This well was dug, this house was built, this project was completed! The muscle ache, the body is weary, the days have slipped by but the vision became a finished reality.
Such lovely things happen in countless lives and they will happen in yours. But there’s a day coming when you will finish the race of your entire life, they will take you to a hospital ward or a home where people go to be treated well when they can no longer help themselves and you will remember (perhaps with difficulty sometimes) the day you dreamed a dream and that you have now finished the course. And you for all your pain or your awareness that you can no longer contribute to life and living as once you could you will know you finished you journey and adventure with Jesus Christ. You’ll remember the day when He walked up to you and called your name, asking you to join Him in a lifelong war against all that was anti-God, anti-life and anti-human and you put your hand in His and said yes. You’ll remember days when you were bone weary and found the commitment demanding or frustrating or for a while beyond your strength, and even when you were being helped, it felt that way. But still, aware of all the bumps and gullies, all the clinging undergrowth on the way, in your own fashion and in your own life’s circumstances you were there at the end and you’ll smile and repeat Paul’s words. “I fought a good fight, a ran a good race and I finished the course.”
You will finish this adventure and you’ll finish it on your feet! By God’s sustaining grace you will do it for the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and for the world!
(Holy One if you had not shown yourself in and as Jesus Christ we could not believe or speak this way.! If you did not continue to show yourself this way in brave wounded and bleeding people like Him we could not believe or speak this way. But we have seen! Count us in. This prayer and commitment in the name of the Lord Jesus.)