by Kelsey Knobloch
And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ – Matthew 25:40
I feel like Veggie Tales, despite its curious premise, is one of the most ubiquitous pieces of media in churches across the country. Vegetables telling bible stories? Who even thought of that? And yet, two films, three TV series, and countless home videos later, Veggie Tales is a household name. My parents purchased each new movie as it was released for many years as my brother, sisters, and I were growing up, and we watched them many, many, many times.
Being so familiar with it, the opening sequence of the movies is pretty familiar to me: a small child walking across the screen while the phrase “why we do what we do” flashes across. That’s what I’d like to focus on today: why do we do what we do? What drives us to have a church, be a community of faith, reach out to others? Why do we pray, spend time, give money? Why do we meet together, week after week?
My dad keeps the Bible on the altar at his church open to the book of John, chapter 3, verse 16. His reasoning is that if someone were to come into the church, for whatever reason, and look at the big shiny book on the table at the front, they would see the “Gospel in a nutshell” that is John 3:16. The quickest, easiest, simplest explanation of ‘why we do what we do.’
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” – John 3:16
It’s just that easy. God loves us, so we love others. God gave everything: His Son, Himself, so that we won’t die eternally. No strings attached, no caveats, no complications. It gets complicated, however, when humans get involved.
It’s all well and good to ‘do what we do’ when people are grateful, when we help those in need, and when everything goes smoothly with donations, volunteers, and events. No strings attached, no caveats, no complications. But that’s not the way things are. Sometimes the person you helped with rent money could have paid their bills easily, they just misrepresented their situation to you. Sometimes the person you give food to ends up selling it to others rather than eating it. Sometimes our church is broken in to and vandalized. It’s enough to make you sick. Enough to make you want to quit.
But we can’t. We can’t quit.
In the book of Philippians, Paul encourages us to continue on the path we have set before us:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” – Philippians 2:3-5
Let me highlight that last verse for you again: Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus. Did Jesus give up when He was met with drawbacks or challenges? Did Jesus ask who was going to receive His gifts? Did Jesus recall the past sins of others? Our past sins? Not at all. If we are to have the same mind as Him, we should strive for the same conviction. We should give without expecting, we should love without restraint, we should forgive more times than we can count (Matthew 18:21-22). We should ‘do what we do’ as a reflection of the perfect love of Jesus.
“But that’s hard!” Yes, yes it is. It seems silly, foolish. Such selfless love, even when our very building is assaulted, seems like the last thing to do. But our entire faith seems silly to some. The echoes of God’s love, the reflection of His grace, is exactly what we should aim for. For us, this endless love is the power of God, the very cornerstone of who we are.
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? – 1 Corinthians 1:18-20
It’s ‘why we do what we do.’ It’s still hard, there’s no denying it. But the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God is as indescribable as it is inimitable. We should continue to try our best, even when we can’t do it. The best part is, God is right there with us, helping us along the way.
If you joined us for Easter, you know that our worship happened outdoors rather unexpectedly. The church building was vandalized the night prior, and while the officers inside worked to process the crime scene, we began praising our risen Savior. All the while, through song, prayer, sermons, and solos, God was speaking. God was helping. God was loving. He was reminding us ‘why we do what we do.’
God was loving as we gathered in the parking lot, singing praises and celebrating His victory over death.
God was loving as the choir sang Hallelujah over and over again.
God was loving as Pastor Troy held the pages of Sue Ann’s music so they wouldn’t fly away in the wind.
God was loving as we prayed for Him to “strengthen our commitment and courage to face the painful truth of violence in our country.” (A prayer that was written well before it seemed so very pertinent that morning.)
As we prayed for Him to “make us peacemakers as Jesus was a peacemaker,” and as we prayed for the strength and courage to “care for the perpetrators of violent acts,” God was providing encouragement and love, speaking through the words of our Pastors and worship leaders.
As we sang before communion, “grant us peace,” God was working to heal our hearts, so broken that morning, and showing us that love, His love, will prevail.
It’s not easy to love like Jesus does. I don’t think it will ever be easy. But we “shine like stars in [a] world” full of hurt (Philippians 2:15), reflecting the love of the Son. Why do we ‘do what we do’? Because we can’t do anything else.