I watched Secret Millionaire on Sunday and loved it! I commend Dani Johnson for doing the show and the testimony she gave in a recent Christianity Today article. However, there is a troubling thought that I was left with after I watched the show. Let me give one more illustration before I elaborate on it.
A few of us from First Baptist experienced the joy of serving as we went to Ecuador last summer and worked in an orphanage. Some of the children in that orphanage were neglected, diseased, etc. and virtually all of them were pitiful. Our team focused on building them a new facility, teaching them art, and generally finding tangible ways to care for them. They were fortunate enough to have Casa de Fe in the city of Shell, Ecuador that would take them in and not only care for them but love them to Jesus. However, I had a troubling thought as I left that mission trip, too.
The troubling thought? Regarding the Secret Millionaire, it is that one week after Dani Johnson lovingly provided for the needs of some deserving recipients and doing it in the name of Jesus, someone else will do the same thing for their own purposes. They may not be a Christian at all and yet they will do exactly what Dani did. The question? What makes Dani’s act of kindness in Jesus’ name distinctly “Christian” if the next guy will do the same thing?
Regarding our ministry trip to Ecuador, I struggled with the fact that while we were serving the Lord by working at the construction site, we were surrounded by men and women who were lost and had spent the same amount of money as us to go to Ecuador and do the same thing. What made our acts of ministry distinctly “Christian” if it was being mimicked by those who had rejected Christ?
Now, let me backtrack and clarify a bit. Dani’s actions on Secret Millionaire were inspiring and in my estimation “Christian,” especially when you read Christianity Today’s article and come to understand what ABC edited out. I also believe the ministry project our church has in Ecuador is distinctly “Christian” in that we are doing what God has called us to do and are being His hands and feet. My point is that Christians must be intentional in our acts of service. They must not focus simply on temporal needs but on Kingdom objectives. If not, we will find ourselves doing the same thing alongside those who are lost and fail to show them how Jesus makes us different from them.
This is my problem with much of what has encompassed the Christian culture today. We’re doing service projects that meet needs like the Lord would have us but we are failing to make our actions distinctly “Christian.” This is simply a repackaging of the “social gospel” that strives to meet the physical and legitimate needs of the hurting and oppressed while failing to do so for a greater purpose … the furtherance of the Kingdom of God. If an act of service is not done for this purpose, it is simply not “Christian.” A kind act? Yes. A necessary act? Yes. A Christian act? No.
Jesus was not indifferent to this matter. He continually called His followers away from the world so that they would be distinctly different. A follower of Christ should be fairly easy to detect even in a lost world that is going through a phase of service-oriented projects that leave tears in your eyes as the hour program comes to a close. I’ll conclude with one such reference:
Luke 6:27-36 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
Should we continue to engage in acts of kindness? Of course! But be intentional about how it can be done in a way that makes it “Christian.”