Sunday, 19 February 2012
Setting An Example As God's Servants
(Source for this picture here).
We had such an interesting and inspiring sermon at Church today. The theme was about life - not merely the life we should be living as servants of our Father God, but also, the priceless sanctity of all human life. We should be advocates of the glory of life, the gift that God breathed into us, when He created us in His image -
"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (Genesis 1, 26 - 27).
Thinking about this more deeply now that we are home again, it seems to me that the as advocates of the sacredness of human life, the example we must set to our fellow humans, should be one that clearly demonstrates that this is a belief fundamental to the teaching of Christianity, as stated plainly in the sixth commandment in Exodus 20, verse 13 -"Thou shalt not kill". Thus we should demonstrate in our behaviour and beliefs as we go about our daily activities, that our commitment is to preserving life, because this is what God demands of us. This is not merely a personal interpretation of the teachings of the Bible, as some issues may be. But how should we demonstrate this? It is not enough, just to state what our beliefs are, and what the teaching of the Bible states. We must demonstrate it through our actions. And these actions should be ones, that reveal clearly to others, the true nature of Christian people - a nature formed in the image of our creator, whose Holy Spirit works within us.
"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ". (Colossians 3, 23 - 24).
To me, it seems that God desires that we should be showing compassion, benevolence and love to those for whom the end of life is drawing near, rather than looking to the world of medicine and law to hasten this end, and similarly, towards those who are forced into a situation where a decision must be made about the preservation of unborn life. Sadly, this goes directly against the current secular teaching that it is kinder, to prevent someone's suffering, than to prolong it, and that euthanasia is preferable to palliative medical and nursing care, and furthermore, that a mother's life is more precious than an unborn child's. How disposable life seems to have become! In a world where having a child is seen as a possession and a right, rather than a privelige - a gift from God, it seems that the child matters least of all, when it comes to the sanctity of life.
These are difficult issues for anyone to address, but as Christian wives and mothers, we are placed in a prominent role as advocates for God's teaching on this important matter, and it is therefore our duty that we take on the mantle of setting an example by our actions, and that we are not afraid to defend the teaching of the Bible when we are challenged on this issue. In our daily lives, how can we demonstrate our commitment to upholding the sanctity of life, in keeping with the commands of our Saviour?
Of course, our responsibility starts at home, with the education of our own children, ensuring that from the earliest age, they are familiar with the Bible teaching about the preciousness of a life created in the image of God, and how this impacts on the decisions they will make and the activities they engage in - both in terms of their own lives, and those of others. We have a duty to teach our children, both by example and by instruction, about the importance of fulfilling God's teaching about the marriage relationship, about how the creation of new life should only happen within this union, and that it is God's will, not ours, that should determine how many children we are blessed with. It also means teaching our children to be caring, empathetic, selfless, considerate, responsible, sensitive, virtuous - willing to put the needs of others first, and to have compassion for the weak and ailing, rather than seeing them as a burden or inconvenience.
So many character qualities to cultivate, but which will provide them with a firm foundation for sound decision making, as they become independent adults themselves, and able to begin a new generation of Godly men and women. And if we can do this, then we are ourselves, serving God in our roles as mothers who have sole responsibilty for the training - and future well being, of our offspring.
But it doesn't stop there. Whether we like it or not, as Christians, God teaches that we also have a wider responsibility to society in general -
"And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these". (Mark 12, 31).
Of course, our duties lie first with our families, and we should not think of neglecting their needs, for the needs of others. That is not God's plan for us. After serving Him we are commanded to serve our husbands, and then our families. But there are still ways in which we can be seen to set an example for others, in our compassion, considerateness and commitment to God's teaching about the sanctitiy of life. We can do this in many ways. There are charities we can support, education programmes to which we can contribute - materially, if not in person. There are hospitals, care homes, residential units, childrens' centres, where we can give our support - and our children can, too. Just by showing an interest and finding out more about the good work that they do, and encouraging others to use their services, we are supporting them. Depending on the season of your life in which you are presently, you may even be able to offer some of your time, if your husband is agreeable. Or you could think about providing practical support in the shape of meals, clothing, toys, toiletries or books, to enable the lives of others to be improved and enhanced. Even bringing a cake you have baked to share with others during coffee after the Church service on Sundays, is a way of extending our love - God's love - to our fellow beings.
We cannot change the world, corrupt and sinful as it is, alone. But despite this we should not shy away from upholding the teaching of our Father God, whatever we are doing, wherever we are, in the hope that others may be inspired by us - and led to Him. The failings of society are due to a complexity of causes, at the heart of which lies the deterioration of the traditional family unit and therefore, it is in unity with our loved ones, that we should seek to set an example. It is simple really, for at the centre of all this, is a humble willingness to serve joyfully, regardless of our circumstances. As we go about our daily activities, if we do so with a joyful heart, we are telling the world that we are grateful to God for the role He has placed us in, and accepting of His will in our lives. This is a precious lesson to accept and to demonstrate to those around us. As Christians, we should be shining our lights in all that we do, that we may inspire others around us and draw them closer to God. Our duty is to show, through our own actions, that life is ALWAYS valuable - at whatever stage it is - whether the beginning or the very end of life. God loves all of us, and He wants us to share this love, with everyone around us - as His son Jesus Christ, taught. The best way we can do this, is to follow His example, and rejoyce in the precious gift of each day, that He has given us with which to live out His plan, knowing that we are humbly serving Him, as we follow faithfully the commands of His word.
"For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ". (1 Corinthians 2, 11 - 16).