Agape (Greek for Love) in Action – Civic and Charity
We have a responsibility to do good to all. We cannot ignore the society we live in but should do good as much as we have opportunity.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” [Galatians 6:9-10]
In this study we will consider our responsibilities towards the society. We will look at how we should live our life as citizens and strangers of this world and at the same time how to be charitable and loving towards our neighbours. “Agape” is the Greek word “to love”
We should respect and pray for our leaders
As citizens and as professing the truth we should should respect and pray for our leaders. We should also hope that the eyes of our leaders are opened to the way of truth.
“I exhort that petitions, prayers, supplications, and thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all the ones being in high position, that we may lead a tranquil and quiet existence in all godliness and dignity. For this is good and acceptable before God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to a full knowledge of truth.“ [1 Timothy 2:1-4]
We should be subject to the laws of the land unless it comes in direct conflict with God’s law.
If we break the law then we deserve to be punished:
“What credit do you deserve if you endure a beating for doing something wrong? But if you endure suffering for doing something good, God is pleased with you.” [1 Peter 2:20]
We should live as peace loving citizens
Don’t pay people back with evil for the evil they do to you. Focus your thoughts on those things that are considered noble. As much as it is possible, live in peace with everyone. Don’t take revenge, dear friends. Instead, let God’s anger take care of it. After all, Scripture says, “I alone have the right to take revenge. I will pay back, says the Lord.” [Romans 12:17-19]
We have a responsibility to maintain personal hygiene. We should be presentable and decent.
Under the law God taught the children of Israel hygiene: “Choose a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. You must carry a pointed stick as part of your equipment. When you go outside to squat, dig a hole with it. When you’re done, cover up your excrement. The LORD your God moves around in your camp to protect you and hand your enemies over to you. So your camp must always be holy. This way, the LORD will never see anything offensive among you and turn away from you.” [Deuteronomy 23:12-14]
We should keep ourselves clean. Washing was a very important ritual God taught the children of Israel to be clean.
Examples of cleansing through water:
• Before an holy occasion
So the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people, and tell them they have two days to get ready. They must set themselves apart as holy. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the day after tomorrow. On that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai as all the people watch. [Exodus 19:10-11]
• Every time the priests entered the tent of meeting they had to wash their hands and feet before the met with their Maker He put the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it for washing. Moses, Aaron, and his sons used this water to wash their hands and feet. They would wash whenever they went into the tent of meeting or whenever they approached the altar. Moses followed the LORD’S instructions. [Exodus 40:30-32]
• Washing also prevented spread of diseases
“Regarding the creatures mentioned above, this is how you would become unclean: Whoever touches their dead bodies will be unclean until evening. Whoever carries any part of their dead bodies must wash his clothes. He will be unclean until evening. [Leviticus 11:24-25]
• Regarding skin diseases water was used to cleanse Agape in Action
On the seventh day the priest will examine the scab again. If the scab has not spread on the skin and does not look deeper than the rest of the skin, the priest must declare him clean. When he has washed his clothes, he will be clean. [Leviticus 13:34]
• If a man has a discharge he was instructed to wash and change his sheets and not to continue to lie on it
“The man who has a discharge makes everything he lies on or sits on unclean. Those who touch his bed must wash their clothes and their bodies. They will be unclean until evening. [Leviticus 15:4-5]
• Washing used extensively to prevent contamination and the spread of diseases
“Native Israelites or foreigners who eat the body of an animal that dies naturally or is killed by another animal must wash their clothes and their bodies. They will be unclean until evening. Then they will be clean. If they don’t wash their clothes and their bodies, they will be guilty of sin. [Leviticus 17:15,16]
We can see how our God emphasizes the importance of maintaining personal hygiene. Washing and keeping clean does not require one to be rich. Even a poor person can keep clean if he chooses to be clean.
We should care for the environment keeping it clean and preserve its precious resources
God gave us this world to live and enjoy the environment. It makes no sense for the Christian to be destructive towards the environment. The destruction of environment is evident around us
• Forest lands is being converted and habitats destroyed at an increasing rate.
• Species are becoming extinct every day.
• Land is being degraded by overuse of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.
• Hazardous chemicals and wastes pollute our lakes and rivers.
• Pollution is rapidly ceasing to be a local problem and is becoming a global problem.
• The atmosphere’s ability to regulate itself is being perturbed by excess carbon dioxide, CFC’s, and other gases.
• Human cultures that know how to live in harmony with nature are rapidly disappearing.
• Global warming, ozone holes are seen as human negligence towards the environment
• Plastic rubbish is seen all around us.
• Wastage and Shortage of water
• Etc, Etc.
Very early, at the time of creation God gave the world in our hands as homes to live and control:
“And God blessed them; and God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the seas, and over birds of the heavens, and over all beasts creeping on the earth”. [Genesis 1:28]
It is therefore our responsibility to look after the environment that God has created and given to us. God loves his creation and takes pride in it and it is our responsibility to look after it.
When God placed Adam in Eden he instructed him to take “care” of it and not destroy it:
“Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to farm the land and to take care of it.” [Genesis 2:15]
God taught in the law even land needs rest or a Sabbath. The people were not to abuse the land so it becomes completely unusable. It also taught people to trust the Lord.
“But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.” [Leviticus 25:4]
We are told to be kind to the animals, our pets and domestic animals that work for us:
“A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” [Proverbs 12:10]
Be considerate of the surroundings
If you believe in personal hygiene it is also important to consider neighborly and environmental hygiene and fulfill the command of “loving your neighbour as yourselves”. We may clean our home but do we throw or push our rubbish towards our neighbors? If this is our attitude are we living Godly lives? Is it a good Christian practice to litter the neighborhood?
“In the same way let your light shine in front of people. Then they will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven.” [Matthew 5:16]
“Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.“ [Romans 15:2]
As Christian citizens we have to be charitable towards others
“A religion that is pure and stainless in the sight of God the Father is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.“ [Jam 1:27]
James exhorts that the profession of our religion involves responsibility towards the down trodden of society. We cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering people around us. It is our social and Christian responsibility to help out in whatever way we can.
Let us do kind acts to the people around us so that we are known for our good heart and deeds.
“But a certain traveling Samaritan came upon him, and seeing him, he was filled with pity. And coming near, he bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine, and set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And going on the next day, he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, Take care of him. And whatever more you spend, when I come again I will repay you. Then which of these three, do you think, was neighbor to him who fell among the robbers?” [Luke 10:33-36]
Preaching responsibilities to our society
As Christian citizens we should be able to witness to the world both based on good deeds and words. Today you and I have come to know the living God because someone had the will to share the good news with us. The word of God spreads through personal testimony and conviction.
Paul argues, “whoever shall call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” [but] How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without preaching? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:13-15
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” [2 Timothy 4:2]
1.Why should we pray for our leaders who are not Christians and perhaps even corrupt? (See also Ezra 6:9-10)
2. Why is it important to keep ourselves clean? When you go on a picnic is it a good practice to leave the plastic and waste where you had your meal?
3. Is it a good idea to pass urine or to excrete when then the train has halted in a station? How will God view such behavior?
4. If our neighbour is very quarrelsome how can we maintain peace?
5. Why was washing in water very important under the Law? What are spiritual and physical lessons with regards to the use of water for cleaning under the law
6. Should we as Christian contribute to the preservation of the environment or should we give up on the hopeless state of the world and wait for the Lord to solve the problems in the kingdom?
7. How can we as citizens of this country help the needy around us? Can we help others if we ourselves struggle to feed our own family?
8. List five ways you can be a source of encouragement and example in the society you live?
9. How can/is your church make a difference in the society we live – i.e. how can the church shine it light in this dark world?
10. List five ways we can preach to our neighbour and in our society