"Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 15:5, 6)

At times the world surrounds us with discouraging happenings. Death of a loved one, incurable disease, loss of job, bankruptcy, divorce, unfaithfulness, injustices, acts of war, acts of terrorism, international intrigue, inhumanity, and such like things scream at us daily. As alarm clocks ring, many "steel" themselves for the day with this thought: "If things can go wrong today, they will." Unfortunately, we are conditioned to expect bad things. It is as though our world exists in the "desert of bad happenings."

Suddenly, an oasis appears with its water of life bringing hope and relief. An incredible vacation Bible school is fashioned by the volunteer efforts of countless adults. Volunteers serve in an education program that constantly evaluates the spiritual needs of students. A growing Hispanic outreach celebrates its first year of existence with joy and interaction. An inner city outreach touches lives that a few years ago were regarded unreachable. A new opportunity to begin a campus ministry work arises with the potential of touching many lives. Ministries to evangelistic and medical needs are directed to several places in our world. The widows and elderly are served. Those in need are fed. Transportation to worship is provided. Quilts are made for gifts. Projectionists illustrate sermons. Tapes are reproduced and mailed. Short term mission trips occur. Congregational fellowships are monthly occasions. Small groups gather. Elders seek "feedback" from the congregation. Men and women in jail are taught. Individuals quietly respond to needs they see with a fervent desire to extend hope.

Why? Why does all this happen? Does someone force all these people to be involved? Is there some "bribe," some "coercion," some "guilting" that masterfully manipulates? No. Those so moved seek citizenship in a world where they belong--and this world is not that place. They see God's goodness and the grace He lavishes upon us in Jesus Christ. This water of life is not produced through human accomplishments, but through the divine love that revealed God's seriousness in Jesus' redemptive, atoning blood. They serve Christ the Lord to the glory of God the Father. They are His children.

"Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation." (1 Peter 2:12)

"Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. ... We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone." (1 Thessalonians 5:11, 14)

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 3 August 2003

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