October 2017 Mind of the Missionary

Saved for Serving is the title of a book written by one of the international missionaries who grew up in Pickens. Emma Fox Puthuff served from 1885 to 1889 in Brazil until health issues brought her home. She and her husband continued to serve in Texas and Arkansas where she published this book. The title captures what the Christian life is truly about. It seems to me that modern Christianity has lost sight of this. First, some understand that it is all about “going to heaven” when we die. They seem to think that all one needs to do is to “pray the sinner’s prayer,” get baptized, and do more good deeds than bad, defined by themselves, and then when they die Jesus will usher them into what Revelation describes as the New Jerusalem. As a song of a few decades ago declared, “they are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.”

The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus came to defeat our enemies so that we can serve, without fear, in righteousness and holiness. Luke 1:71-78. Again, in the shadow of the cross, Jesus describes the judgment scene as being a time when the saved and the unsaved will be separated. Matthew 25:31-46. The criteria of separation seems to be whether or not a person has given evidence of living a serving life. Actually, the message of the Gospel is that we must both believe right and behave right. One without the other will not work. Jesus illustrates service in the Matthew 25 passage with six simple acts of service—giving a cup of cold water, food, clothing, shelter, and visiting the sick and the imprisoned. We are helped in this in our association with the Baptist Center Thrift Store, the Lydia House, and ministries in the county jail and in Federal Prison.

Just before the teaching of Jesus concerning Judgment, we find a parable told by Jesus about three servants. Two lived responsibly and served the interests of the master as faithful servants. The third focused on his own well-being, rather than the wishes of the master. The first two servants were told, “Well done good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful with a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the Lord.” Matthew 25:23. The third was sent to outer darkness, which is understood as hell, simply because he did not serve his master.

In reflecting on my 20 years of service in the Pickens County Association, I truly believe that Jesus will say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Many good things have happened here. The association provides opportunity for members of our churches to be Good and Faithful Servants. The association is focused on being a full-partner in the mission enterprise of our denomination. Saved folk can serve. Saved folks will serve. Ask yourself, what will your master say to you?

Fearless Living in Troubled Times, a new book by Michael Youssef, addresses the issues that I presented in this article. I encourage everyone to get a copy and read it.

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