By Aaron Rousseau
Trinity UMC, Gainesville, FL
First, read Romans 15:1
My six-year-old son, as children often do, has an abundance of energy and an active imagination. I treasure observing him put those God-given gifts to use whenever he is pretending to be a superhero or, more seriously, learning and practicing tae kwon do. If you are a parent, that probably doesn’t surprise you. After all, we should love watching our children be who God made them to be.
What may surprise you, however, is what I often think of when I am watching him in the dojo, especially when he and his class recite their student creed (which speaks of traits like courtesy, respect, integrity, perseverance, and self-control, among others).
I think of Uncle Ben. Not an uncle in our family, mind you, but Peter Parker’s uncle.
As in Spiderman’s uncle.
The one who said, “Remember, with great power comes great responsibility.”
That was a classic scene in 2002’s Spiderman, to be sure, but I think 2012’s The Amazing Spiderman improved on it. Uncle Ben was explaining to Peter a principle his father had lived by and said these words, “He believed that if you could do good things for other people, you had a moral obligation to do those things! That's what's at stake here. Not choice. Responsibility.”
Now, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest to you that the apostle Paul would have responded to Uncle Ben’s words this way: “Exactly.”
In his letter to the Roman church, Paul went to great length to convey to Gentile and Jewish believers how to live together in community by demonstrating the love of Christ and the unity of the Spirit. How exactly? By imitating Jesus Christ himself and living into his commandment that “we love each other.” Love was what motivated Jesus to set aside his strength and power. It wasn’t for his own good or to please himself. It was for our sake that he became weak. Jesus bore our every sin and weakness, acting for the good of us all. The God who so loves the world calls us to do the same. That’s what’s at stake here.
As followers of Jesus Christ committed to making a difference in the world we don’t have a choice, but a responsibility, the moral obligation, to do good for others. We do good by extravagantly and sacrificially…
…giving food to the hungry.
…giving drink to the thirsty.
…welcoming the stranger.
…clothing the naked.
…taking care of the sick.
…visiting the prisoner.
We do these things for the least, the last, and the lost not by merely tolerating them but meeting them exactly where they are and seeing them as God sees them so that we might truly identify with their deepest need. Jesus has indeed given us all we need to do good things for other people, not to please ourselves, but because of what he has so selflessly done for us.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I want to do good things for other people. Give me eyes to see others as you see them and let love motivate me to selflessly serve their deepest needs. Amen.
- How has God gifted you to do good things for other people?
- How have you misused those gifts for your own pleasure or personal gain?
- What are some good things you can do for other people throughout the remainder of Lent?