The river of the water of life flows from the throne of God, through the streets of the City of God and out into the world bringing healing and life. (See Ezekiel 47 and Revelation 22:1-2) This is a picture of God’s grace flowing out of the Church and transforming the world.
This is the third part of the mission of the church: to overflow with the grace of the King by doing good to the world around.
So, why should we be do gooders?
Firstly, because it is the unanimous witness of Scripture, that good works are a core part of what it means to be God’s people . We are not set apart only to worship God or to make converts or to be a self-contained community but to do good works to the world around. In fact, our worship to God and our fellowship only make sense if they flow out to and draw from lives of good works. The bible makes it plain, good works always follow when someone is truly born again of the Spirit of God.
Secondly because it gives glory to God. When Jesus healed the sick, ate with outcasts, gave sight to the blind or set prisoners free, he proclaimed the Kingdom of God by “healing” the world, showing what the world was meant to be like and proclaiming its ultimate restoration under his Kingship. When we do good we continue this work. When people see good in the world around them they see how God meant thing’s to be and how they will ultimately be. This gives glory to God by enabling people to see his character and his purposes.
Thirdly, doing good also commends and authenticates the Gospel by showing what kind of God we proclaim. When we say that people must repent and believe we are not asking them to believe in some arbitrary, ugly or destructive religion, but in the Triune God, the eternal source of all goodness. When we live lives full of good works, this truth is demonstrated.
Fourthly, doing good is part of living life in the Spirit. When we do good we are doing things of eternal value. So, Jesus says that when we give to the poor we “store up treasure in heaven”. Paul tells the Galatians that when they do good they “sow to the Spirit” and the result is a “harvest of eternal life.”
Fifthly, when we do good we know God more. Jesus says that when we feed the poor, visit the sick we do those things for him. This isn’t just a case of duty, but of encounter. When we love others we meet God face to face; we “live in him”. When we love love itself we love God, for God is love.
So we can see that, doing good in the world around us is as an essential part of our identity as God’s Church. How then does this grace flow out of church? In two ways: through individuals and through the ministries of the church.
In very practical terms, individuals who are saved by grace and filled with the Holy Spirit are changed by God. Their lives fill up with the fruit of the Spirit and this has a profound impact on the world around. Each Christian has different gifts and callings and opportunities for doing good and goodness flows out into these different areas changing the world around.
But the Church as a whole has a key part to play in this since it is the life of the Church that enables us to overflow. Through the diversity of gifts and ministries within the church people are healed, restored, matured and released into doing good to the world around them. Only as part of the body are we fully equipped to do the works God has for us.
On top of this individual overflow of grace , God has brought us together to do things that we cannot do alone. By placing different gifts together Christians can initiate truly world changing things. This has been the history of the Church over 2000 years, a body that has utterly turned the world upside down, bringing transformation and grace to the world countless ways. This togetherness also enables us to let our “light shine before men” in a way we cannot individually, since we can boast of our corporate good works in a way that gives glory to God and not to man. In this way our good works are like a river that can be traced to its source, back to the city and finally to the throne of our glorious King and God who is glorified by them.
To be zealous for good works. As good protestants our fear of self-righteousness has made us shy of being “do-gooders”. Yet the bible says that we are made to do them, that we should be zealous for them. The power of God at work in our lives is astonishing and makes an incredible difference, our lives should reflect that power. As an individual what gits do you have, what situations are you in where you can do good that others cannot? What gifts, ideas and situations do we face as a church where we can do good together?
Be bold in good works. Another reason why we are shy of doing good is because of the fear of appearing merely “nice”. This is good concern to have, since Jesus challenges us to live lives that are in contrast to the goodness that arises naturally from human nature. Our good works should point clearly to the power of God and the truth of his word in ways that give credit to him alone. Like subjects jealous for the glory of our King, we should want to make him famous by attempting wonderful things.
Be Full Up With Good Works. As the vineyard of God we should be flowing with good wine. As his field we desire to bear a hundredfold harvest, as his bride we should be like the woman of Proverbs 31, industrious, innovative, faithful and hard-working, for the fame of our wonderful bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ.