As I survey articles on the Internet, one category that I enjoy is learning about the faith of famous people in the media, especially those whom I had previously grown to respect or admire. Upon learning about their beliefs, their behavior and their faith start to fit together: I can view their TV, movie, or music presence in light of their worldview: as the natural outcome of their active faith in Jesus Christ. Of course, we don’t want to worship them (rather, we should join them in worshiping God), but we can definitely pray for them.
In fact, I find the same thing with colleagues at work. When I learn about Christian faith in fellow employees, I think back to what I remember of my previous encounters with them, and the pieces fall into place. Whether it is a gentle nature, an attitude of service, or just a choice to not join into some of the messier things that happen when people – even professionals – work together, the evidence of Jesus in their lives is often difficult to miss.
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
Matthew 5:14-16 NLT
I lost a former colleague last year. He had retired somewhat recently from another department that I periodically worked with, and we had talked a number of times during our shared careers (usually about business). In his obituary, there was a strong testament to his faith. While (I think) I was aware of this before he retired, this man had exemplified the humility of Jesus Christ, and made the company a better place to work at, just by his presence.
There’s a line from The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, that has stuck with me for a long time (probably after having to read it in high school!):
Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is dead.
While Meyer Wolfshein, the fictional character who made the statement above, isn’t a saint (by any stretch of the imagination), he makes a good point. There comes a time when a eulogy enriches only those of us who remain, and not the object of the compliments.
There is a similar truth for those who are lost without Jesus. There comes a point where we are only left to speculate on their eternal destiny, without the ability to tell them the good news about salvation through Jesus Christ.
For those who are still trying to get through this life without Jesus, let us give them hope by showing them a better way. May we pray for them, and then listen for God’s prompting about how we can to help them through their suffering. When we can, let us show them the sacrificial love that Jesus showed to us, but not just as “good citizens”. Rather, may we serve these souls in Jesus’ name, and – like He did – teach them the truth as we live out that truth. (Read through Matthew 25:1-13 to remind yourself of why this is important.)
For those whose light is shining for Jesus, and who share His love with those around them (including with us), let us take every opportunity to encourage them as well. May we pray for them – for their spiritual strength and their success in the Kingdom of God – and then let them know that we are asking for God’s incredible power to be upon them (kind of like Elisha in 2 Kings 2:9-14). When we have the chance, let us step into their lives and come alongside them. Maybe we will help carry their burdens (see Galatians 6:1-5). Maybe we will stand up for them (and for their faith) when others make disparaging remarks. Maybe we will just listen to their struggles as they experience the inevitable trials of living righteously in a fallen world. (Read Matthew 25:31-46 for some inspiration to do this.)
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
Matthew 25:40 NLT
May we indeed show our friendship for others while they are yet living, and not wait until the opportunities to do so have passed.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.