In the Independent, Fundamental Baptist movement, any number of ideas interplay in curious ways.
God’s All Sufficiency
On one hand, God is the Creator and Preserver of the universe and all things in it. God appoints the times and seasons for people and nations. God decides who lives within what borders and under what conditions. God owns the cattle of a thousand hills, and the wealth of every mine. Sun, moon and stars in their place? That’s God’s doing! Tides come this far and then stop? God is at work again! Day turns to night and night to day. Same story! And if an eclipse brings dark sooner, that is still God behind all these things. Death and birth, the raging typhoon, the tiny insect that chirps in the dark — God does it all. Deserts and oceans, mountains and valleys are all God’s prime real estate.
Our Needy God
How often have we heard that God can do nothing without you. God has no hands but your hands. God has no feet but your feet. How many motivational [read ‘manipulative’] sermons have we heard on Isaiah’s willingness to ‘go’ when God asked, ‘who will go for me!’ Application can be wonderfully broad. This sermon might mean, ‘answer the call to serve God in Malawi!’ More likely, it means you are to volunteer for early room duty at the church run school.
Also overlooked is that Isaiah 6 is the prophet’s unique call to ministry. But we’re supposed to hear that call in a way unique to us. Somehow, Isaiah 6:8 ‘who shall I send…who will go for us’ texts translate easily into ‘we’re starting this new ministry and need a volunteer; I want you to volunteer, and by the way — so does God.’
The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. Yet churches produce plenty of ministry ideas. Many are vital to community. Others are … well … it’s just vital that you volunteer. Because even if God runs heaven and earth, his ministry won’t happen without you. It makes sense. No?
Christians are a blessing. They are a blessing because having received freely, they give just as freely. In this way, Christians follow Jesus’ teachings who taught that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
God lavished his grace upon us. God in Christ reconciled the world to himself. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world. Therefore, when God sends us into the world, it is not to condemn the world. That is why Christians everywhere are known for passing on God’s grace and forgiveness as lavishly as God gave it to Christians themselves!
Christians are a Blessing
So it is that Christians are known to forswear all hatreds and bigotries. Instead they speak grace and peace in a world torn by war and strife. They are not warriors but healers. Just as Jesus stood above the fray, so do Christians. And when caught in the crossfire, they accept wounds without offense or retaliation. Like Jesus, they answer with blessing.
Christians recognize the brokenness and weakness of the little people of the world. Christians bind their wounds, stand by them and defend them. But Christians stand far from slander. They know slander is the Satan’s work. And when prejudices do lead to slander, Christians are the first to stand beside the afflicted to bear Satan’s lash with them. Christians take seriously Jesus’ admonition to love their enemies, and to do them good. Moreover, Christians do this in consistent, loving and concrete ways.
Christians do these things all the time. They expect nothing in return. They live simple, sacrificial, counter-cultural lives for the good of others. Christians have no scores to settle because they keep no record of injuries received. They just do their deeds and are blissfully unaware that they are doing them. As followers of Jesus, this is the only way they know.