Commitment to prayer, discipleship, and faithful service to wider humanity
Christian service calls for a personal relationship with Christ, loyal commitment to the church and an obligation to assist others within society. Evangelicals take seriously the call to action given by Jesus:
“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?'”
“‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.'”
Love the Lord your God: Prayer and discipleship ensure an ongoing relationship with God. We talk to our friends, neighbours and co-workers every day. Similarly, prayer is required to keep an ongoing dialogue with God. What is life without communication with our creator? Communication with God ensures an ongoing commitment to a future of salvation and eternal life. We must maintain this relationship just as we would a relationship with one of our friends. Talk with God often.
Discipleship is equally important. Living as a follower of Christ provides our witness to those around us about our allegiance to the Kingdom of God. True discipleship does not come without a cost, however. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a 20th Century theologian, provides a fantantastic explanation of the cost of discipleship:
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son… Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.
– Taken from “Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, The Cost of Discipleship, Toronto, Ontario, Touchstone Books, 1995, pg 45.”
Faithful service to wider humanity is also a requirement. As Jesus says: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Thus, we have been charged with loving and caring for those around us in the same way that we love God. We have a responsibility to express our love to God through our love, care and compassion to those around us. Numerous Christian organizations provide such services. We are all responsible to help support the least among us in any way that we can.
The instruction is clear, simple and easy to understand. And, it is full of richness and life. It is difficult to object to this message of love and community that is ordered by Jesus. We must embrace this as participants in Christ’s Kingdom here on Earth.
This is the last post in this series on “What is an Evangelical”. I’m certain that many people identify with these tenets and agree that they are central to one’s faith. My goal here has been to highlight the similarities that are present between the numerous Christian denominations throughout the world. Instead of focusing on the divisions between believers, I prefer to focus on the similarities. From there, we can build a network of trust, mutual understanding and teamwork, all of which translates into a more influential and effective worldwide movement. Christianity, at its roots, is a religion of love. We should focus on this love and work together for the betterment of society as a whole. I trust that this calling will sit well with each of you as you consider your personal contribution to spreading God’s light throughout the world.