If you are a parent with children who’ve attended college, then you have likely sent “care” packages—a box full of toiletries, socks, cookies, new (clean) underwear, and a bit of extra money, too. Or if you support missionaries overseas, you’ve probably mailed care packages to them as well with goodies from home that they can’t find on the mission field. When disaster strikes, Aid organizations rush in to meet the need for people who are hurting, lost, and in need of rescue.
Aid organizations have been around for centuries, but the last several decades have seen an explosion of aid movements around the world. Regardless of an aid organization’s purpose, founder, focus, and constituents, they all begin with two things in common: a need and an idea. Somebody, in the face of a crisis or just lying in bed and thinking late at night, had an “Aha!” moment: “I can do something about that!” They shared the need and the idea, got others involved and excited, and a campaign was born.
From Jesus’ Hands to Ours
God Himself began the greatest “aid” outreach in human history—and it is still going and growing today. If you are a Christian, a committed follower of Jesus of Nazareth, then you have been given a part to play in that outreach.
In the Garden of Eden, God saw the need—the deliverance of humanity from the power, guilt, and eternal consequences of sin. And God said (if you will allow me to paraphrase), “I can do something about that!” He began recruiting people like Seth and Noah to play a part, and ultimately Abraham was named a sort of CEO. All of Abraham’s physical and spiritual descendants were to join God’s movement to bring salvation to humanity.
God even sent His own Son, a physical descendant of Abraham, to earth to play the most critical role—dealing with the penalty of sin. Once accomplished, Jesus commissioned His own team to take over the outreach: “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21).
Jesus clearly had a strategy in mind when He returned to heaven and left the Father’s outreach plan in the hands of His followers. There were two reasons: First, every person involved in the outreach needed to be equipped by the Holy Spirit who came to manifest Christ’s life in us (John 16:7-11). And second, Jesus knew He could only reach so many people one-on-one, and the need was much greater. So, His primary task completed, He departed and then dispersed His team into the world to do “greater works” (John 14:12) than He could have done alone.
Handprints on the World
Jesus has chosen to leave His handprints on the world through our hands. He has asked us to be His hands and heart in continuing and completing God’s outreach to the world. Which raises the question: What is my part? And what is yours? Where can your handprints and mine be found in this world? And what kind of works are we accomplishing?
There are an infinite number of ways to participate in Christ’s outreach to the world. We know that He alone can meet the need, so what is our role?
Just as every small task is important in a political campaign or any aid outreach, so every task is important in reaching the world with the Gospel. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor” (1 Corinthians 3:6-8).
Our concern is not the increase—only God can give that. Our concern is the planting and watering—the myriad tasks of giving, encouraging, preaching, leading, managing, teaching, counseling, witnessing, and loving for which God has given gifts supplied by His Spirit (Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31). By the Spirit, every Christian has been given the fingerprints of Jesus to leave in plain sight in this world.
Are our hands in our pockets? Or are our hands leaving handprints—some large, some small, but all important—for Christ throughout the world? He has committed the final stage of the greatest aid outreach in human history to us—let’s leave our handprints on the world.
David Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point for God,
and serves as Senior Pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
For more information about Turning Point visit www.DavidJeremiah.org.
In 2009, a well-known attorney in Pennsylvania pled guilty to corruption charges. All the details of his case, trial, and eventual sentencing were widely covered in the media. I am not going to mention his name or cite the sources online where you can read about his crime because it is not my purpose to focus on his failure. What I want to do is highlight portions of a letter he submitted to the judge just prior to his sentencing:
“Your Honor, I take full responsibility for my actions and inactions. When I [got involved with the other guilty parties] I knew instantly that was wrong. I had the responsibility to say no and not to assist them in any way . . . I knew better and I lacked the courage to say no. . . . I had the responsibility to refuse them. . .. I had the ability to do the right thing and say no. I was wrong for giving in . . .. I was also wrong not to report this to the authorities . . .. I was both scared and selfish and I will forever regret that decision.
Thank you. Respectfully submitted, [Name].”
These are just some of the penitent words in his letter to the judge. Again—I am making no judgment as to whether the accused genuinely meant what he said or not. But it is worth noting that he chose not to solicit letters from community leaders, friends, family, or others who might have spoken on his behalf. He chose to face the music without appearing to try to influence the judge with others’ support.“The Devil Made Me Do It”
When Clerow Wilson turned 16, he was ready to get out of foster homes and reform school, so he lied about his age and joined the U.S. Air Force. Blessed with a non-stop personality, he entertained fellow airmen with so many funny stories they claimed he was “flipped out.” The name stuck. Leaving the Air Force, “Flip” Wilson found work as a bellhop and started performing between paid acts at the hotel’s stage show. Before long he was a successful comedian. One of Flip’s most popular characters was Geraldine Jones, whom he portrayed in a dress, a copper-colored wig, and with exaggerated facial expressions. Geraldine was constantly misbehaving, crossing the line, and violating her conscience. But she had a one-sentence explanation for her behavior: “The devil made me do it.” The phrase, “The devil made me do it,” became part of entertainment lore.
I wonder why. On its surface, it’s not a particularly funny line. Perhaps it struck our funny bones because it struck a nerve. We know we’re sinners. We’re bewildered at how easily we do wrong and how hard it is to do right. We need a rationale for our evil habits, or at least an excuse. It’s as good an excuse as any. In some way, this tagline became an expression of national self-justification: “The devil made me do it.”Everything Is Different, but Nothing Has Changed
Steve Jobs didn’t have a lot to say. He didn’t give a lot of speeches, except for a famous graduation address at Stanford University. He was a private man. He didn’t take to the podium to advance his causes except when unveiling his new products.
Yet Jobs changed the history of communication. He made the world accessible to us, and us to the world. He turned “I” into a lower-case phenomenon and squeezed all our bulky entertainment systems into portable devices. Jobs’ mission was delivering as much content possible, to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, and as portably and affordably as possible.
Steve Jobs wasn’t a perfect man. But perhaps his commitment to his own mission will remind us of our commitment to ours. We’re to rededicate ourselves every day to deliver the Gospel to as many people possible, as quickly as possible, and as portably and affordably as possible.
When your priorities are in alignment with God’s and you live in obedience to Him, you have all you need for a fulfilling life. Dr. David Jeremiah illustrates this truth in the Old Testament account of the rebuilding of the temple, as God’s people learn to stop making excuses and start living in obedience.All Sermons by Dr. David Jeremiah