For none of us lives to himself alone…if we live we live to the Lord…so whether we live or die we belong to the Lord (Rom 14:7-8)
We are Christians and we bear the name of Christ since we have been purchased by his blood. Forget the metaphor of slave that had great relevance in St. Paul’s time but we have been placed here on this side of heaven for a special purpose. We have a reasonable service as Christians where reason must guide us while serving the people of all hues and persuasion. It would be great disservice to God, is it not if we end up as being counted as worldly and not Godly? First and foremost we belong to Christ.(Ac.20:28) And we have our place under the sun.
As God’s people we must consider we have no permanent place on this earth. Our citizenship is in heaven as St.Paul puts it so eloquently(Phil 3:20) In the Psalms we read that the heaven is, even the heavens are of the Lord and in this connection it is of particular interest to us that the earth belongs to the children of men.(Ps.116:16) The Lord has given it so any Christian to resist the order of things is chasing wind. Any Christian who thinks he can be of a significant role player on the earth must know he is in for heartbreak. John Calvin wanted a theocratic government in his lifetime and it was a pipe-dream. There are those who enter politics on the assumption that their piety and values would make a difference. Can anyone really take that seriously? Our Lord and Saviour did not set himself to play any role but that of a servant. He came into the world and chose not the palace of a prince or of a man of substance. He identified by his mode of birth the kind of life he intended to live. He was among the world but not of the world. Compare the life of Moses and that of Jesus. One grew up in the best of worldly circumstances and the other as the lowest of the low. Jesus was born in a manger. Neither the self-indulgence of a palace nor the rank smell of a sheep-stall did ever trouble them. These examples are given to us for our guidance. We live in the company of men to whom the advantages of this world are reserved while we look for the world to come.
One of the serious charges against Christianity is that we try to buy our way to the heaven by some good deeds that we cannot either appreciate or enjoy in real. Why we are cowardly in our attitude to enjoy what God has set in abundance for all? By the same token are we too hypocritical to walk that extra mile to help another for whom the world is all in all? We enjoy the advantages by the toil of the worldly for which even they have been assigned a role by God. Should we not appreciate that the good and bad intermingle like wheat and the tares on this earth? There were great writers and creative spirits whose focus was not of God but of human condition. Even so we have been fortified by their service which we can appreciate while in body. Only that we need to be discerning and know we have spirit as well and it continues where our bodies hit the dust. It is only decent to repay for the goodness we have enjoyed by what we can with our lives.
St. Paul’s admonition to the Christians at Philippi is relevant for us.’Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable… if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think of these things’.(Phil 4:8) To the pure at heart the quality of his Word is a safeguard and Power to preserve him from being swallowed by the filth in the world. His Wisdom shall also hedge his way about.
We are like Simon the sorcerer if we think we can buy our way into heaven. There are many cults that have come up who deny the grace and power of God. These sects teach the world to come belongs to those members who follow certain precepts,-Touch not, see not, speak in tongues do not take medicine or donate blood to save the lives of the ‘unbelievers’ or take theirs to keep the life of a believer ad nauseum. Such pharisaical nit-picking is not from the Scriptures but that of men.
Suppose disaster strikes some part of the earth are we pointing out to the afflicted with some secret glee that they had it coming to them for their ungodly ways?Are we not robbing God of his Majesty in judging others? The role of Christians is to alleviate their suffering since we belong to the Lord. We have not lived in vain if we can do something noble, praiseworthy, excellent while we are in body. That is our reasonable service to give God and men from what is best possible.