BY RT. REV. CHRIS GIESLER |
Imagine, for a moment, that a young doctor has discovered a radical new way to do hip surgeries. This discovery will eliminate most hip replacements, its painful rehabilitation, and have people up and walking within a matter of days. Should this Doctor keep this discovery to his/herself and perform it only for the world’s wealthiest people? This would provide for a prosperous life with homes in several of the world’s most desired addresses, the best of cars, and the finest of clothes for everyone in the family. Or, should this Doctor share the discovery with all orthopedic surgeons so that many might benefit from it? This would mean that he/she would lose the corner on the market and the wealth that would come with it.
This story is, of course, fictional, but gets at a more profound truth that we, as followers of Jesus, must keep in mind as we make the daily decisions that impact not only our own lives but that of others.
As Christians in the Moravian tradition, we believe that each of us is a beloved child of God. This calls us to care for ourselves, but it also calls us to care for others as well. One of our foundational faith-documents, the “Ground of the Unity,” begins with several sections on just who we believe God to be and how God connects with the world. It is no coincidence that it ends with three paragraphs about what God calls us to do in response:
The Church as a Community of Service
Jesus Christ came not to be served but to serve. From this, His Church receives its mission and its power for its service, to which each of its members is called. We believe that the Lord has called us particularly to mission service among the peoples of the world. In this, and in all other forms of service both at home and abroad, to which the Lord commits us, He expects us to confess Him and witness to His love in unselfish service.
Serving Our Neighbor
Our Lord Jesus entered into this world’s misery to bear it and to overcome it. We seek to follow Him in serving His brothers and sisters. Like the love of Jesus, this service knows no bounds. Therefore we pray the Lord ever anew to point out to us the way to reach our neighbors, opening our hearts and hands to them in their need.
Serving the World
Jesus Christ maintains in love and faithfulness His commitment to this fallen world. Therefore we must remain concerned for this world. We may not withdraw from it through indifference, pride or fear. Together with the universal Christian Church, the Unitas Fratrum challenges humanity with the message of the love of God, striving to promote the peace of the world and seeking to attain what is best for all. (for the full text of the “Ground of the Unity” go to https://www.moravian.org/2018/10/the-ground-of-the-unity )
Jesus’ ministry was one of compassion and self-giving, and it came at a great cost for him. First, his ministry was a challenge for his family. At one point, Mark’s Gospel records that Jesus’ family tried to get him to come back home because they thought he had lost his mind (Mark 3:21). He pushed the limits on societal norms such has interactions with women (John 4). He ate with the wrong people, and he forgave the wrong people. Jesus looked to the core issues facing his society and called his people to love everyone. The consistent theme throughout Jesus’ ministry was his care for others, most notably those at society’s margins. It is no wonder the rich and powerful wanted him out of the way. But through Jesus, God showed us the better way.
In our context today, we must be asking ourselves if we are seeking a better way, or are we only looking after ourselves? Are we hoarding the blessings of our lives, even God’s grace, while others are in need? We are in an important place in the history of our country. We have been challenged to tend once again a wound that was opened 400 years ago when the first slave ships sold their captives into slavery on this land. This wound must still be tended because it has never been properly dressed, so the infection is still there. We can’t heal this wound by ignoring it, so let us tend to it with honesty, humility, grace, and a vision for a more perfect union.
We are also facing a pandemic that is raging across the world right now, with its epicenter being the United States. We will not stop its spread if we act in our self-interest; in fact, doing so will only make matters worse by widening and deepening the virus.
Never before in my lifetime of 60 years have I seen more of a need for us to serve each other, to keep the needs of others in mind, to care for those who are at the margins of society. Never has the need been greater than now for us to be freely sharing the blessings we have received.
All of us would want the fictional Doctor to share his/her discovery of a way to help others live a better, more pain-free life, so think for just a moment about all that you have that someone else needs. Don’t stop there; go and share whatever you can in Jesus’ name.
About the Author
The Right Reverand Chris Giesler began working on the BWM staff in 2018. His primary focus with the Board of World Mission is to keep congregations and their members informed about the Board of World Mission initiatives, as well as to help them find their mission passion for the neighborhoods in which they are located. He also helps individuals to hear God’s voice, discern their spiritual gifts and call, and to respond in loving service.