Search the Scriptures: A Reputation for Doing Right
About five to ten years after the church was established, God sent Peter to preach at Cornelius’ house. Cornelius was a Roman centurion, stationed in Caesarea, about 55 miles from Jerusalem. The conversion of his family to Christianity marked the beginning of the evangelization of the nations, for previously it had been preached only to the descendants of Abraham: the Jews and the Samaritans.
As usual, Peter began his lesson by talking about Jesus, saying: “As for the word which he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout Judea, beginning with Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went from place to place doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. (Acts 10:36-38; ESV)”
Although a few years had passed, Jesus’ reputation was such that in discussing his person, very little introduction was needed. Peter could state with confidence, among the people he had just met, that the events surrounding the ministry of Jesus were well known to all. Simply put, Jesus did so much good that he established a strong reputation for doing good, a reputation that spread throughout Judea (of which Caesarea was a city) and Galilee and even farther afield. the stranger.
Even during his lifetime, Jesus’ reputation became such that he could not escape notice, even when he tried. There was, for example, this occasion when, desiring a little solitude with his disciples, he traveled north, out of Galilee, to the city of Tire in Phoenicia. But he was always recognized and approached for help by the mother of a distressed daughter (cf. Mark 7:24-25).
In this, Jesus fulfilled his own command: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do we light a lamp to put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it lights up everyone in the house. Likewise, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16; ESV)”
Today’s followers of Jesus do well to ask themselves, how far do we let our light shine? Are we following the path of our Lord and Saviour, establishing such a reputation for doing good that our name is synonymous with the same? Is the Lord’s Church known for its love and compassion in the community? Are individual Christians known as examples of kindness, generosity, and a willingness to do whatever is possible to improve the lives of others?
Jesus expected his disciples to be so focused, giving us a “new commandment,” that we would love one another the same way he had loved us, thus truly showing the whole world that we are in effect his faithful followers (cf. John 13:34-35). The love of Jesus was a love that focused on the spiritual well-being of the recipient, but it was also a love that did not neglect to do good on any occasion.
“By this we know the love, that he gave his life for us, and we must give our life for the brothers. But if someone has the goods of the world and sees his brother in need, but closes his heart against him, how does the love of God dwell in him? Little children, let us not love in words or words but in deeds and in truth. (John 3:16-18; ESV)”
This does not mean that we should do good just so others will notice (cf. Matthew 6:1). We should not be driven by a desire for compliments, recognition, or rewards. We should not serve others to please people, but rather work as if we were working for the Lord, desiring that reward which comes from the Lord (cf. Ephesians 6:6-8). Nevertheless, a love practiced in imitation of Christ is a love that will be noticed. It will be noticed by those in the house. It will be noticed by the neighbors you help. It will be noticed by the community. And, more importantly, it will be noticed by Christ, who is watching His servants to see how closely they are following in His footsteps.
So, “do not weary of doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not give up. So therefore, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, and especially to those who are of the house of faith (Galatians 6:9-10; ESV). “
Jonathan McAnulty is a minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ. The views expressed in the article are the work of the author.