Why bother being a Christian? Why bother living by the Golden Rule of “Do to others what you would want them to do to you”? Why bother living by the Ten Commandments, Greatest Commandment, et al? Christians and not Christians ask themselves and others this question.
Living a Christian life, that is, living a saving relationship with Jesus Christ may have little effect on the adherent or others because it is taken for granted. Dana Kelly wrote last week, “Anything taken for granted is devalued, and that which is devalued becomes ignored. How can anyone be expected to actively preserve something they don’t truly understand or appreciate?
The ability to practice Christian faith beaconed the Pilgrims to come to America. Missionaries believed following Christ brought about the best life possible. Consequently they were willing to risk their lives on the high seas to come to America. Once here, that flame in their soul enabled them to live out their belief in an often hostile, volatile, and deadly environment. What Christians stood for, how they lived, and what they encouraged others to practice caused resentment and anger. It could lead to physical violence and repeatedly being cursed. Being a Christian in the New World and on the frontier was costly.
It is rare today to find even the smallest hamlet without at least one church. I once lived in a community of three hundred and eight that boasted five churches. From the Supreme Court building and the United States Constitution to postage stamp sized cemeteries in the middle of the woods, the blood sweat and emotional toll of these determined Believers put a stamp on people, society, and the way they lived. A church was often the first thing built when a new community sprung up. It came to symbolize civilization was sprouting in Wild West.
Christianity is so common place today it is often taken for granted which leads to its devaluation and eventual ignoring. It has little effect because little effort is plowed into it.
I have been told that you do not have to be a Christian to know living by the Ten Commandments is the right thing to do. The problem here, however, is that when Christianity is reduced to rules instead of a vital relationship with Jesus Christ, the impetus for participation becomes punishment instead of a love that warms the heart, adds significance to living, and leads to the free generous sharing of all one has with others. Why bother? That life is a bother!
When we do not see a difference in what we do, discouragement sets in. Our instant society with its accompanying expectations exacerbates the problem. Why use yeast when instant yeast is available? Why get a college degree when a professional sports contract is available? “One and done” is the way to go; at least for a few people and a few years. The effects of a slow burn are overlooked by the hope of a big bang on the horizon.
Miracles still happen. But the culminative power of little things over time has a ripple effect. KLRC radio may not be the originator of the Christmas Wish idea or “pay it forward” mindset. They have been faithful, however, to encourage both things every year. The Siloam Springs Council of Realtors presentation of $2,500 to Genesis House this year was one of a string of yearly gifts. Similar occurrences are plentiful to those who are looking.
Why bother doing good, living by the Golden Rule, and growing deeper in a relationship with Jesus Christ? Quite simply, it makes an enormous difference over time. It deepens life. How many lives have been made better by those who worked at or came to the Manna Center, New Beginnings, Genesis House, the Community Clinic, Meals on Wheels and numerous church outreach ministries? How many streams have erupted from the springs of a “paying it forward” or “do to others” type of mindset and follow-through? The world becomes a better place through one action in one person’s life at a time.
Jesus invested three years in twelve very ordinary and often problematic people. Those Twelve led to 120. Within months of Jesus’ death and resurrection, those 120 grew to 3,000. You can read the story in Acts chapter two. It closes with the statement “day by day the LORD added to their number those who were being (in the process or caught in the ripple effect) saved”. Do you detect the ripple effect? Jesus Christ enhanced it and reinvigorated it. The Holy Spirit wants to add to it through you. Will you be bothered?