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Saving Our Collective Memory

History is important. For when we lose our past we lose a piece of ourselves. It’s like losing our memory.

This matter is so important that God speaks of it in his Word. Notice what King David said in Psalm 145:3-5 and 10-12, “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty…All you have made will praise you, O Lord; your saints will extol you. They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all men may know of your mighty acts.”

This past Sunday evening it was our privilege to hear the testimony of Ziggy and Anna Hoecke. They recounted how God in his providence brought them through World War II. As we listened to Ziggy and Anna, we soon discovered that God in his providence often used small acts of kindness from family members to total strangers to accomplish his work in and through them.

Pastor David concluded by asking them to give us some key points or lessons we could learn from their lives. Ziggy responded by challenging us to daily look for ways to perform little acts of kindness for others. Here is an important truth we need to keep before us. Our temptation is to become frustrated because nothing big ever happens to us or we don’t seem to have the opportunity to do some big thing for someone else. We forget about 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”

We need to follow Paul’s example in 1 Corinthians 2:2-3 when he went to Corinth, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.” Humility goes a long way when working with others. Without it you will miss many little opportunities because you will be looking for the spotlight or the big event.

Gene Veith, Jr. has written God at Work. It is the book we are using as a guide in our class on work. I like how he shows the place and importance of good works. He puts it like this,

Though our relationship with God has nothing to do with our works, good or bad, and is, indeed, totally God’s work, St. Paul continues (in Ephesians), “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”(Eph. 2:10). By virtue of our creation, our purpose in life is to do good works, which God Himself “prepared” for us to do. We are “(God’s) workmanship,” which means that God is at work in us to do the works He intends. . .Our relationship to God, then, has nothing to do with our works. Our relationships to other people, though, in the world God has placed us in, do involve our works . . . As theologian Gustaf Wingren put it, “God does not need our good works, but our neighbor does.”

I find this view of work or vocation (calling) so uplifting and freeing! It gets our eyes off ourselves. It causes us to see others in a new light. The people all around me, whether I am at work, at home, in the neighborhood or out and about, are there for me to serve. Am I actively looking for ways to encourage and help them? Am I working with God by taking advantage of the opportunities to serve others, knowing that God has prepared me to do this very thing?

Gene Veith sums it up as follows, “The purpose of vocation is to love and serve one’s neighbor. This is the test, the criterion, and the guide for how to live out each and every vocation anyone can be called to: How does my calling serve my neighbor? Who are my neighbors in my particular vocation, and how can I serve them with the love of God?”

Consider the words of Christ in Matthew 25:40, The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.” Here we discover that what we do for others, we have actually done for Christ. So when I serve others, I am really in the end serving and loving Christ.

Elder Jim Gordon