Unbelievers can argue philosophy. They can dispute theology. They can subvert history. And they can undermine character. But they are helpless in the face of extraordinary feats of selfless compassion. George Grant
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, Phil 2:8-9
After describing the incarnation of Jesus Christ, Paul describes the unbelievable lengths that God would go to save his people. We simply cannot miss the significance of this incomparable act of love and humility on God’s part. It is not just that he came to earth, or that he gave up his divine prerogatives, or that he came to serve instead of rule, not even that he came to die for us. The ultimate pull upon our hearts is ultimately the way in which the Son of God accomplished his mission. Jesus said it like this: “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” [John 12:32]
God could have forced us to repent. He could have put a sword to our neck. Instead he drew us to himself. He demonstrated the glory of God in such a beautiful and attractive way that we gladly chose to follow him with all of our heart, mind and soul. Of course, we could not have done that without the Holy Spirit opening the eyes of our hearts so that we could see the glory of God in the face of Christ. But, the fact remains, we were drawn to Jesus rather than dragged to him.
In an increasingly secularized world, there is a temptation to act like the world is our enemy. There is a growing tendency in our country to identify opposing political views with anti-Christian motives. Consequently, if we are not careful, we will take up political weapons to win the battle at hand. We must remember, our world is a missionfield, not a battlefield. By that I mean that the unbelievers who stand against us are not our enemy. We are engaged in a spiritual battle and that battle will only be won with spiritual weapons.
What I am suggesting is that we need to step back from the conflict and check our attitude. Paul reminds us that Jesus fought and won the battle by humbling himself and becoming a servant, a servant that died to set us free. There are many who do not like the hard words of Jesus, but, they cannot deny the loving and sacrificial way he carried out his mission.
We are called and empowered to live and fight like Jesus. We declare the words of the gospel but we do it with the works of the Gospel. That is the sense of Grant’s comment above. Unbelievers can argue, dispute, subvert and undermine, but they cannot explain the selfless sacrifice exhibited by Christ and his followers. When we live like our Lord, when our goal is not greatness but service, we demonstrate an authentic life that cannot be ignored or easily discredited.
One of the loudest voices for the cause of Jesus Christ was the diminutive lady we call Mother Teresa. She was small in size but her heart and her influence were felt around the world. She won an audience for her faith by her unselfish service to the “little ones” of this world. Few will ever forget the speech she gave at the National Prayer Breakfast on November 3, 1994. She said some pretty controversial remarks in front of the President and the elite of our country. But, she had established a platform from which to speak by her humble service to mankind in the name of Jesus.
The theme of her message was that peace comes as we love others as Jesus loved us. It was a loving rebuke to the power-brokers of our land. Early in her message she recited the famous prayer of St. Francis of Assisi which said,
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. where there is hatred let me sow love, where there is injury let me sow pardon, where there is doubt let me sow faith, where there is despair let me give hope, where there is darkness let me give light, Where there is sadness let me give joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not try to be comforted but to comfort, not try to be understood but to understand, not try to be loved but to love. Because it is in giving that we receive, it is in forgiving that we are forgiven, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Then, Mother Teresa, in clear and unapologetic language, uncommon for those who live within the Beltline, preached a powerful message to the uncomfortable dignitaries in attendance. She reminded them that Jesus came to bring peace, not a peace which meant that we ignore each other, but a peace that comes from loving one another. She reminded them that Jesus came and died “not just for you and me” but for “that leper and for that man dying of hunger and that naked person lying in the street, not only of Calcutta, but of Africa, and everywhere.”
She was just warming up. She explained to the gathered crowd of public figures that love is not love unless it hurts. Then, she went to serious meddling when she declared what she believed to be the greatest threat to world peace. It was not nuclear warheads nor rogue nations nor chemical warfare. Here is what she said in her words:
But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us. So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.
You can access the full sermon at http://www.priestsforlife.org/brochures/mtspeech.html. It was an unforgettable call to Christian service by one who demonstrated Christ’s love in the most sacrificial of ways. Of course, there were those who raised their voice against her message. But, they could not discredit her. She spoke with moral weight that could not be blown away by her offended critics.
I think Mother Teresa has given us a lesson to the Church in our day. Our right to be heard will not be won by political points or snide remarks and angry comments on the internet. It will only happen when we give our lives in humble service to a needy and unbelieving world just like our Lord did. We are called to love and serve the needy, even those who disagree with us. Let me end this devotional with the closing words of Mother Teresa:
If we remember that God loves us, and that we can love others as He loves us, then America can become a sign of peace for the world. From here, a sign of care for the weakest of the weak – the unborn child – must go out to the world. If you become a burning light of justice and peace in the world, then really you will be true to what the founders of this country stood for. God bless you!