In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructed His followers to “let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Though we are not to be motivated by the lure of receiving praise from people for our own glory (see Matthew 6:1-18), Jesus does want His people to live in a way that is attractive, brings light to the world, and causes people to reflect positively on our God. Though we may feel that the many good deeds and expressions of mercy practiced by Christians in our world are often unreported or under-reported, there are times when the media and our culture stand up and take notice.
Who is Time Magazine’s 2014 person of the year? Answer: The Ebola Fighters. As you glance through the pages, you hear the stories of such people as Dr. Jerry Brown (Liberian surgeon who practices at the Eternal Love Winning Africa ministry), Dr. Debbie Eisenhut (SIM missionary), Dr. Kent Brantley (missionary with Samaritan’s Purse), and Nancy Writebol (medical aid with SIM). These are believers who risked their own lives serving others in the name of Christ, some of whom contracted the Ebola virus in the process. Though the article included heroic efforts by others who did not necessarily identify themselves as Christians, evangelical believers were well represented in this secular magazine. What are some lessons we can glean from this?
- The Power of Calling to Serve. Most of the believers who treated Ebola patients were already there serving out their calling. They did not come in to perform heroic deeds before the cameras; they were simply living out what they believed God had called them to do. They were being salt and light in their own sphere of ministry. When the dangerous venture came before them, they did not flee. At risk to their own lives, they were the hands and feet of Jesus bringing healing to others. Every believer is called to serve Christ and His Kingdom in some way. It may not be overtly risky like treating Ebola patients, but you are called to be faithful even when it may get costly. Regardless of where you get your paycheck, you are called to full-time Christian service as a follower of Jesus.
- The Power of Action that Accompanies Words. Jesus was powerful in both word and deed. Sometimes we try to drive a wedge between whether we shine our light by our words or by our deeds. We need both. We need words to communicate the good news that is found in Jesus. We need actions that authenticate our words and demonstrate to a weary and wary world the validity of our faith. You’ve heard the phrase “talk is cheap”? These Christian Ebola fighters demonstrated love and sacrifice as they treated their patients. The world may be cynical about religious talk, but they can’t help but take notice when they see examples like these.
- The Power of Faith over Fear. Human nature is prone to respond in fear. When the Ebola virus reached our shores through those who contracted the disease, you could almost sense a mass hysteria in our nation. Is there reason for concern and caution? Sure. Should we be wise in keeping ourselves and our loved ones from unnecessarily harmful circumstances? Yes. But so many of us are captive to our fears that we lack the ability to demonstrate faith. People are watching us. How will we respond to the next national crisis? How will we react when the next epidemic breaks out? Will followers of Jesus be known for a response dictated by fear? Or, like those in this article, will we respond as a people who believe in a sovereign God and a people who follow a Savior who was willing to serve others and suffer for others?