The faith we are called to live out as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, while important on Sundays, is even more critical as we live each and every day.
This has become abundantly clear over the past two years. As we have endured several waves of COVID-19, we have learned to transition our church services and programs to an online mode and have recognized that this reaches some audiences we had previously overlooked. Many congregations also have expanded ministries to include more neighborhood services that serve those in need as a reflection of our faith.
Throughout all of this, communities around the globe have become acutely aware that we are all connected. We all share the same earth and its resources—or lack thereof. What affects one of us will affect others. COVID-19 began as an outbreak in one part of the world but quickly became a worldwide pandemic.
Lately, the war in Ukraine is exposing the vulnerability of the earth to this simple truth. Every location and every person is interconnected. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
King also once preached a sermon about the parable of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10. In it, he reflected on the fact that the priest and the Levite, when they came upon the beaten man, asked themselves, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?”
King said that is the wrong question. The question we as Christians should be asking is, “If I don’t stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” This is the essence of the gospel: love in action. It is this love in action that brought Jesus Christ to become incarnate, to dwell with us in our mess, and to die for us on the cross.
Because of our connection to mission and missionaries in Ukraine, we are aware of the deep suffering of many there and elsewhere in Europe. We are also beginning to see the war affecting the lives of people even in North America: fuel prices are rising, spurring an increase in the costs of numerous other services.
These pain points are being borne mostly by those who can least afford it. This is certainly true in the United States and Canada, but it is even more true for people in other countries that depend heavily on farm exports from Ukraine and Russia for their very livelihood. Egypt, Lebanon, and other countries receive most of their grain from Ukraine and Russia; their food supply is now at risk.
Our world is in pain, and many despair of a solution. As Christians, we know who we are and to whom we belong. We also know what we must do: love God and demonstrate that love by loving our neighbors. This includes neighbors who are close and those who are far away. It even includes the neighbors with whom we disagree.
This is our command regardless of the day of the week or the time of year. Jesus reminds us in Mark 12:30-31: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ … ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Our Lord Jesus Christ never tells us that our faith is only for the Sabbath. In reading the stories of the Bible, it’s clear that our faith is to be lived out every day—no excuses.
In this issue you will find stories from ministries of the Christian Reformed Church as we strive to do God’s will worldwide. May you be strengthened and your faith girded by these acts of God as the Holy Spirit continues to work for our good in accordance with God’s Word. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
May it be so. To God be the glory!