A Call to Action
by Rev. Joshua Manning
River City United Methodist Church
So the late 60's - the early 90's are a generation characterized by the title; "the me generation" or "generation me". This is because the values and motivations of this generation were self serving, it was all about getting all you can for yourself. Flash forward to the world of today and we have a current generation of people in their 30's and younger that make the original "generation me" look a lot more altruistic. We have a generation of people who have taken that idea of getting all that you can for yourself and augmented it with the axiom of do what makes you happy. Not only has that maxim been adopted, but there is a growing movement that is combative and militant about defending others rights to do what makes them happy. You may be reading this and asking yourself whats wrong with doing that? The answer is simple, if you live or champion a "do what makes you happy" lifestyle then you are part of the process that is creating a generation of people that only care about themselves. We have more selfish, self absorbed people than any other time in our history , so much so that we are quickly eroding the the value of people. Honestly I see more people outraged and passionate about animals and nature than their fellow man. Please know I am not knocking conservation of nature or caring for animals, but we must realize that the world and the animals that exist in it were created by God for man, for us. When we get into a mode that we care more about the gift than to whom the gift was given we are getting it backwards and missing the point.
- James 1:27 tells us that religion God finds pure and perfect is taking care of widows and orphans
- Matthew 25:31-46 tells us that when we love the least, we love Christ
- John 15:13 tells us that there is no greater love than to lay your life down for another
- Matthew 22:36-40 tells us that the greatest commandment is to love God, and love others as we love ourselves
I could go on and on with scripture references and direct quotes from Jesus. The scripture is replete with directives and teaching about love of God and following Christ being synonymous with loving others. Lets take a moment though and unpack what "love" is. The church seems be at a loss to figure out what it means to love because at some point in its history the church has lost the knowledge of what love is. Yes love is accepting other people, but too often that is where we want to stop. This is why the church is at war with itself even now because we have become deeply divided on what it means to love someone. The real question we need to tackle is what is the love that we are called to give each other. We must turn to the Bible and specifically to Christ to know the answer to this question. When we honestly look at how Christ loved people we see that love is;
- accepting others
A huge portion of the church and people are all about these aspects of love and that is where they want to stop, but that is not all that Christ shows us about love. There is also;
Yeah, our culture does not like those aspects of love much, and you can see that in this mentality of ‘do what makes you happy’. No, that is not right. You will not find that anywhere in the Bible. You will not find Jesus at anytime instructing the disciples to do what makes them happy. Jesus himself did not do what would make him happy. Look at the prayer in the garden, Jesus was desperate to not go to the cross, it would have made him happy for there to be another way, he even asked for that. At the end of the day though real, honest, true love had to win out; Jesus loved by sacrificing and serving us. We dishonor that sacrifice whenever we are unwilling to do the same, remember the student is not above the teacher. I write this because I see people and youth around me that seem to only want to serve or do for others when it is convenient or safe for them. We as a culture have seemed to convince ourselves that there is a way to serve that makes us happy. That is wrong, because the nature of service is about making you less important(less happy) and elevating others to being more important than you and your wants. Service is an act of love because service is sacrificial. We must stop looking for ways to fit service into our lives where its convenient and fits. Instead we must make our lives an act of service. We must be willing to be uncomfortable, to sacrifice our time, our money, our wants, our comfort so that others may be loved by the Father and then can learn to do the same for another.
If your service is not making you uncomfortable, is not inconvenient, or is not costing you something then you need to take a closer look at your life, because there is a good chance that you are not loving God first and then loving others as much as yourself. There is more that you could do. Do buy into this idea of doing what makes you happy. Dont buy into a facade of love that only has the warm and fuzzy part.
This is a call to action, a call to reclaim the world that we live in through service and sacrificial love. We as a people must get to the point that our lives are not motivated by our wants, but instead our lives are motivated by the needs of those around us. Then we may find that place in life where doing what makes us happy is the same as doing what makes God happy, which is taking care of His children.