Consider what the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to tell the preacher Titus to repeatedly remind the Christians at Crete:
Titus 2:11-14 (ESV)
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,
12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Look at that last part. God wants to “purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
Titus 3:1-2 (ESV)
1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work,
2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
God wanted Christians to be reminded of what?
“To be submissive to rulers and authorities (and) to be obedient.” (A lot of comments I see some of my brethren making on social media and in person make me think that they believe that verse has the qualifier “as long as I agree with them and they are of my own political party,” but that’s neither here nor there.)
“To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” (Again, from what I see on social media it seems some Christians believe there’s another qualifier: “except for when we discuss politics and the leader in power is of a different party than me and I’m talking to someone who is of a different political party than me. If that’s the case, God wants me to “own” them and make sure I insult the governmental leader with the same kind of mockery that would get me very upset if someone said the same things about my family or myself,” but again, I digress…)
And right in the middle of that passage, we read that God wants Christians “to be ready for every good work.”
And then, just a few sentences later:
Titus 3:8 (ESV)
8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
What did God want those who teach Christians to “insist”? “…that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works.” Why? “These things are excellent and profitable for people.” (Not just the good works, but everything else he told the preacher to instruct Christians about which we’ve cited. However, for now let’s focus on good works.)
God does not want Christianity to be limited to Christians going to a church building a few times a week, sitting in a pew, singing some songs, praying some prayers, listening to a sermon, giving some money, and thinking about Jesus’ death while partaking of communion.
Instead, here’s what he wants from all of us:
1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV)
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
Steadfastness. Being immovable in our conviction. And…“always abounding in the work of the Lord.” Abounding. Being very much caught up in these works. Being very much involved.
Christians, does this describe you and me?
Elders, deacons, preachers…are we doing our part to make sure that our congregations have many opportunities to be involved in many good works, and are we actively encouraging every single person who sits in the pews to be involved in one or more of them, according to their talents and abilities (Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12)? Even going beyond putting them in the bulletin and mentioning them in the announcements, but even going so far as to go up to members personally and encourage them to be get involved? Even “volun-telling” them if need be?
Christians, do we have be “volun-told” in order to get involved? Do our church leaders write us off as apathetic and useless to the work of the Lord? Or are we among those who jump at the opportunity?
The proverbial stereotype is that 20% of the congregation does 80% or more of that congregation’s work. Most churches of Christ in America are no exception to this from my observation. We talk a lot about “restoring New Testament Christianity.” Well, New Testament Christians were told to always be abounding in the work of the Lord. They were told repeatedly in one short book to be zealous for good works, be ready for every good work, and to devote themselves to good works. These commands are just as valid and important as the commands to be baptized for the remission of sins and sing and make melody with your heart to the Lord.
Are you among the stereotypical 20% already, and are you working hard to raise that percentage to 100% of the congregation? If not, why not? Don’t you want to please God? How much do you love your church family? How much do you love the Savior who died for your eternal salvation? Is it enough to “seek FIRST his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33)? Is it enough to be an active worker for the Lord?