Jesus once said that the greatest of all the commandments is that we love God above all. The second is that we love our neighbors. As Christians, we always highlight the lack of love people have for God. But a lot of times, we fail to realize that we also lack love for our neighbors. This causes a lot of people to doubt whether we really have genuine faith on God. It is for this reason that James challenged Christians to back their faith with works, not for salvation, but because we already have the gift of salvation.
Why is a true Christian expected to show good works like love for neighbor? The answer is simple. On our point of conversion, God has started work in our once wicked hearts, slowly transforming it to the kind of heart Jesus exhibited when He was here 2,000 years ago and which He continues to show to humanity. This means that acts of kindness should be a natural for us, making Christ evident in our lives. Every time an opportunity to do good presents itself to us, we, Christians, must right away jump forward to do as required.
Last week, the Philippines experienced the fiercest typhoon in recorded history. Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as "Yolanda") for just a few hours, brought tsunami-like destruction to several provinces in the Visayas islands. As of this time, about 10,000 people in Tacloban City alone have been estimated to have died because of the typhoon and millions displaced, injured, sick and hungry in every area that felt the rush of destruction of Haiyan. Many of those that have died are still lying on streets waiting to be identified and picked-up. The stench has been described in these areas right now as sickening due to the dead bodies. All of these sufferings after several of these cities also experienced a 7.2 magnitude earthquake just weeks before.
Last night, my heart cried as I watched survivors talk about the pain of losing loved ones and the torture of not having a roof over their heads and food and water to replenish hungry and tired bodies. Looting and other crimes are happening as I write in these typhoon ravaged areas because of desperation. I even expect several to be already contemplating suicide because of how they are suffering right now.
Christians, we have right now, a chance to show Christ in our lives. Christian churches must now back-up their exhortations of obedience to God with a show of genuine concern for people. If after seeing pictures and watching videos of what has happened to the Philippines and how Filipinos in the damaged areas are experiencing pain and hunger, extending a helping hand does not even cross your mind, I have every reason to doubt if Christ really is already in you.
We can give financial help to aid rescue and humanitarian work to credible charitable institutions. We can give old clothes we have. If you have extra groceries in your pantries and medicines from your medical kits, why not give them all out to the survivors. Contact churches in the areas affected. They can help distribute what you can give to those that need them the most.
But the most important show of love we can give is the Gospel. If you are packing goods to give to survivors, why not include Gospel tracts in the packages. And if you can, why not go where survivors are and preach the Gospel to them, emphasizing that God's original world was not like what we have right now (full of pain and suffering), and that it was because of sin why we have this world right now. Let's show them that we all have a contribution to the cursing of this world as we all continue to offend God's Laws and because of this, a greater suffering awaits us in Hell. And then give them the great truth that God wants to remove us from this kind of world and bring us to His world in Heaven. Declare what Jesus did at the cross of Calvary. Trumpet to everyone that this is the greatest hope God is offering everyone and we can receive it if we will repent of our sins and trust Jesus for our salvation.
So many of those who call themselves "Christians" have damaged the true image of God's children with their insensitivity to people who need help and kindness. Let's be sure that we don't add to the damage already done. Today, in light of the disaster in the Visayan islands of the Philippines, more eyes are nailed at Christians, looking for proof of Christ in our lives. Let's all show what kind of change God has done in our lives and help those who are suffering.
Dennis Aglosolos, the Director of Living Waters - Asia, will be answering questions.