What Does it Mean to be a Christian? Part 5

Pastor Julianne D. Smith
Assistant to the Bishop for Congregational Vitality
Director for Evangelical Mission
Northeastern Ohio Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Time flies — this was supposed to be a bi-weekly blog and somehow it’s almost bi-monthly! I’m back with my fifth installment of my questions about being a Christian. To review, I’m looking at the promises that we Lutherans make at baptism, either for ourselves or for an infant or child:

To live among God’s faithful people.
To hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper.
To proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed.
To serve all people, following the example of Jesus.
To strive for justice and peace in all the earth.

We are at the fourth on our list: to serve all people, following the example of Jesus. Wow! That’s a lot of promise, when we think about following the example of Jesus. What does it mean? How are we to serve all people? The world is a large place. How are we to follow Jesus’ example? He did so many things.

Cast members of the television show M*A*S*H

I’m reminded of an episode of M*A*S*H when the doctors were appalled to learn that a pilot was using children to search areas with land mines. After attempting to ground him, the doctors got the pilot to agree not to use children anymore. He agreed, but told them that they couldn’t change the world with their efforts. Dr. Honeycutt replied, “No, but we can change our corner of it.”

That observation has helped me to realize that while I can’t meet the needs of all people in the world, I can serve the people of my corner. I can do this through participation in local organizations near me such as the Hope for Newport Garden at Martin Luther Lutheran Church in Youngstown, local food pantries, and the YWCA.

I can help others serve in the global community by donating to Lutheran Disaster Relief, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and Christian Appalachian Project, to name just a few organizations.

Perhaps the bigger question is, “How did Jesus serve?”

The Feeding of the 5000

by Laura James

We know that Jesus fed the hungry, healed the sick, forgave the sinners, washed his disciples’ feet, and even raised the dead. He also ate with sinners, allowed the unclean to touch him, loved the unlovable, and ultimately gave his own life for the sake of the world.

In other words, when we love others as Jesus loved us we will serve others. We won’t be able to stop ourselves. How we serve will depend on where we are, who we’re with, and what they need. Jesus promised that we would do even greater things than he did, so we shouldn’t be surprised when we do amazing things in his name.

Our world is full of people who need to love, and be loved. When we take time to serve others, they can know the love of God, and then they can love and serve in return.

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