Go be His ambassador

Published 9:58 pm Friday, January 16, 2015

As if we needed a reminder, the Paris attacks of early 2015 have brought home to us the fact that last year may be gone, but evil is still alive and well on our broken planet.

In fact, as horrifying as the violence in Paris was, another atrocity of early 2015 was far greater in scale: The terrorist group called Boko Haram (yes, the same group that last year kidnapped 276 girls from a school to be sold as sex slaves) murdered more than 2,000 people in a Nigerian village.

Whether it happens in a rural Nigerian village or the streets of beautiful Paris, evil is a reminder that our world is not the one that God originally created.

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The great 19th-century British pastor Charles Spurgeon observed: “The whole creation is fair and beautiful even in its present condition. I have no sort of sympathy with those who cannot enjoy the beauties of nature. Climbing the lofty Alps, or wandering through the charming valley, skimming the blue sea, or traversing the verdant forest, we have felt that this world, however desecrated by sin, was evidently built to be a temple of God…. Creation glows with a thousand beauties, even in its present fallen condition; yet clearly enough it is not as when it came from the Maker’s hand — the slime of the serpent is on it all — this is not the world which God pronounced ‘very good.’”

Spurgeon wrote these words as he reflected on a biblical passage, Romans 8:22-23, which says, “For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.” (NLT)

This will happen when the risen Christ comes again, raises believers, renews all creation, and forever destroys evil and death.

Until then, those of us who claim to follow him have a job to do in this broken world. That includes praying for people.

We tend to look at events like those in Paris and Nigeria and feel utterly helpless. But we can do something — something incredibly meaningful, something God promises will make a difference: We can pray. As Dr. N.T. Wright says, “We are called to be people in prayer at the place where the world is in pain.”

We can also couple our prayers with action. That might include giving of our financial resources to bring hope to the hopeless around the world. It might include going on a mission trip to open our eyes firsthand to the desperate needs of people in a different part of the world.

But it begins with an action any of us can take: Being an instrument of love to the people God puts in our path each day. Do you realize the potential that you have to bring blessing to people each and every day through something as simple as an encouraging word, a warm smile or an act of kindness? Go be His ambassador today.

Thurman Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.