(An excerpt from Tangible: Making God Known through Deeds of Mercy and Words of Truth by Chris Sicks. Used by permission of NavPress. ©2013)
n the night before He died, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). How can believers in Christ do even greater things than Jesus did?
The Greek word for “greater” is also used in Scripture to communicate the ideas “more” and “abundant.” Jesus wasn’t saying our ministry would be of greater value than His ministry. He was referring to the scope and extent of what He would do through us. Once His physical body left the earth, Jesus delegated His ministry to the body of Christ. This body—the church—quickly grew to include thousands and then millions of men and women and children.
Today, His Word is available in nearly three thousand languages, and there are over four hundred thousand missionaries around the world.1 Christ is doing more abundant work today, more widespread work, through His many brothers and sisters. The body of Christ is Jesus’ loving presence in every part of the world.
Mother Teresa understood this. The world saw a love in her that grabbed their attention, but she didn’t want people to focus on her. She always pointed to Christ as the Source of her love: “Jesus went about doing good. And we are trying to imitate him now because I believe that God loves the world through us. Just as he sent Jesus to be his love, his presence in the world, so today he is sending us.”2
Whether God has placed you in the streets of Calcutta or the suburbs of Charlotte, you have opportunities to be His compassionate presence, to make His love tangible to hurting people.
What does tangible love look like? Think of it as incarnate words. If I merely tell a lonely widow, “Jesus loves you!” and “God is good!” my words are as two-dimensional as a bumper sticker. God’s love isn’t tangible until that lonely woman actually sees and feels love. There is a big difference between love as an idea and love in action.
If you are in a dark basement, the idea of light is no help at all. You need a flashlight. If your children are hungry, the idea that God cares won’t fill their bellies. Your family needs food. When God’s people provide food, hold your hand, pray with you, and give you hope, they can declare, “Jesus loves you!” with authenticity. But it requires the investment of our time, talent, and emotion. It requires our compassionate presence.
God Can Use You
I believe more and more that this is truly the central task of the Christian: to give the Lord the opportunity to exhibit his existence.3 —Francis Schaeffer
Jacqueline is a senior who joined our church after the deacons bought a bus so we could invite to worship the residents of two senior residences across town. Jacqueline is full of energy, spunk, and passion for the Lord. She has some health problems, of course. What eighty-three-year-old doesn’t? A month after she had a hip replacement, the changing seasons hit her with a lung infection. I went to see her in the hospital. As we sat and talked, the other patient in the room, a young woman named Rosita, cried out softly every minute or so, in pain.
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