I was recently reading postings on the subject of “Morality and Religion” on a website for writers. The general consensus on the website was that Christians are taught to do good through the threat of punishment by a disapproving God. The argument goes on to say that general moral code of conduct is something that we share as humans and has nothing to do with religious teachings. I strongly disagree.
I work with the homeless population, the majority of whom are addicts. I do not do so because if I don’t want God to punish me and I do not do what I do because of some innate human moral code. Left to my own will and desire, I never would have chosen this path. In the four years I have worked with the homeless, I have been lied to, stolen from, and had my name publically slandered. My own sense of right and wrong would never have carried me through the devastating blows and failures I have endured as a result of serving the least of these.
I do what I do because years ago I committed my life to Christ and vowed to follow Christ where ever that may lead. This is not a onetime decision, but something I have to do on a daily basis. I do what I do because I believe that when I die to my self will and accept God’s will for my life that Christ lives in me. I become a living sacrifice.
I wish I could say that it is an easy transaction; I simply pray “God I give you my life” and instantly I am transformed into Christ likeness. Unfortunately, that is not how it works. Instead, when we offer our life as a sacrifice, we often have to endure the pain that goes along with being sacrificed. We endure the pain of being lied to, cheated, and slandered just as our Lord endured this same agony. The gift is in knowing that it is not I who live but Christ who lives in me and it is Christ who bears the weight of all this suffering.
Those outside the faith may see this as my loss or as some form of fear invoked obedience but those who have chosen this way of life know it is all gain.