Part of our call to love and serve people is sharing with them the truth of sin and its consequences as well as God’s love and acceptance. David Arscott contends that the most powerful way to do this is to model it – by living out our beliefs.
In a youth project the leaders were running a group conversation about sex. In the midst of this one of the leaders was pressed about her own life and admitted that, yes, she was a virgin. This caused some gasps of surprise, a bit of laughter and joking and some embarrassment for the leader. But the young people were struck by this evidence of a belief lived out.
A perpetual question I hear in my job is ‘What are we trying to do in communities?’ A major part of my answer is, ‘To bring the power of God into people’s lives.’
I believe that this allows for the hope of people coming to faith in Jesus, to knowing God for themselves. It also allows us to work with those who do not yet acknowledge God but are open to having someone pray about their situation, advise them, befriend them, serve them and possibly pray with them.
In tough areas we come across people caught up in difficult situations whose problems are caused by complex issues and histories. There is no quick fix. Parts of the problem will be to do with wrong choices they have made in the past and are possibly still making. Other parts of the problem are outside their control.
In Proverbs 4:10 it says ‘The wicked stumble in the darkness and they do not know why’. I believe part of our job is to help people see why they are stumbling, what parts of their lives they can change and what parts, for now, they cannot. In Deuteronomy 6: 4-7 it says we should talk about God’s law all the time and remind each other of His commands. The good news we have is that God is King, Jesus is Lord and in His Kingdom there are His laws to be obeyed which leads to blessing and contentment. I believe we do people a disservice if we do not tell them about this and give them the chance to respond. I think it must be done very sensitively and at the right times. We bring news of God’s accepting love and also of his justice evidenced by our service to them. He loves us even though we sin but there are consequences to our sin in this life and if we continue in sinful ways it blocks the path to His blessing and to His power bringing change.
It’s a tricky topic and maybe not popular in liberal times but I feel that it is part of the Christian distinctive we offer. No one will listen to us unless we model it ourselves. So the call to obedience and allowing the power of God to transform people’s lives begins with us.
David Arscott is a Community Mission Advisor for Livability in Leeds.