Over the course of the last few weeks we’ve been discussing the Gospel story, and with a lot of help from Fr. John Ricarrdo’s book Rescued; The Unexpected and Extraordinary News of the Gospel, and our part in all of it. We have learned why we were Created, how we’ve been Captured, and then how we were Rescued. The last part that we need to learn is our Response. How do you respond to somebody who has rescued you from a life of hopeless slavery? How can you possibly repay that person?
Obviously, you start by showing that person gratitude, or thanks, every day. You can’t give that person money or buy them a gift. After all, your life is priceless. Luckily for us, God doesn’t want jewels, cash or fancy cars. All He wants is YOU. He wants a relationship with YOU. Tell him thank you! Tell him how much you love him. Show him your gratitude. God’s mercy and love are a gift that we can not earn. It is a gift that he GIVES us. The way to thank him for everything he’s done for and given to us is to worship him and surrender our lives to him.
Before we go much farther, let me explain that Worship is not just the act of going to church. Is that important? Yes. Is it all you have to do? No. Worship involves our mind, body and soul. You can go to church, say all the correct words to the prayers and tithe each week, but if you don’t feel it in your heart then it’s not really worship. In fact, it upsets God when people only give him lip-service.
“Since this people draws near with words only and honors me with their lips alone, though their hearts are far from me, and fear of me has become mere precept of human teaching, therefore I will again deal with this people in surprising and wonderous fashion: The wisdom of the wise shall perish, the prudence of the prudent shall vanish. Ah! You who would hide a plan too deep for the Lord! Who work in the dark, saying, ‘Who sees us, who knows us?’ Your perversity is as though the potter were taken to be the clay: As though what is made should say of its maker, ‘He did not make me!’ Or the vessel should say of the potter, ‘He does not understand.'”Isaiah 29:-13-16 (NABRE)
Think of somebody whom you love very much. Maybe a spouse, a parent, a friend, a child. Now think about how hurtful it would be if they said all the ‘right things’ to you, but their hearts weren’t actually behind the words. You can tell when somebody is just feeding you the information that they think you want to hear. When we worship the goal is to bring pleasure to God, not ourselves. You should be trying to put a giant smile on God’s face. And don’t forget, despite the words you are saying, God knows what is in your heart. He created you and knows everything about you. If you truly believe the Gospel message (Created, Captured, Rescued, Response) then loving God with your whole heart should be easy. Right?
Part of showing God our love for him is to surrender our entire lives to him. Some people might not appreciate the use of the term ‘surrender’. After all, that means to give up all of our personal control and free will, doesn’t it? Not necessarily. God gave us free will so we can use it as we please. When we surrender to God we are giving him control over our lives in the sense that everything we do is for his glory and praise, and we completely depend upon him and trust him to steer us through our lives. If you have control issues, like I do, then this is a difficult thing to do. If there is a problem in my life, then I have to fix it. I can’t just sit back and expect that God will take care of it. I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING. Yes, you have to do something, but that something is to put it in God’s hands, ask him to guide you to make the right decisions, and trust that no matter what happens God will take care of you. This isn’t easy to do, but every day you can decide, again, to surrender yourself into God’s hands.
How else can we respond to the great rescue mission that Jesus carried out on a cross? The great mission that has been entrusted to us is to go out and spread the message of God’s love and Jesus’ victory is by telling others about it. We are all sent to spread the Good News. After all, our mission is to sabotage Satan’s ultimate goal of turning humanity against God. The more people we can wake up and get them to understand what the ultimate life goal should be (eternal life with God in His Kingdom), the more that we take power and control away from Satan.
That might be easier said than done, though. Not all of us are meant to go on missions to other countries to tell the Good News through our faith and works. How does they saying go, “Charity begins at home?” What is your sphere of influence? Start in your own backyard. I can’t give you any advice on how to go out and spread the Gospel, but I can tell you to do it in love. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. You don’t have to be a “Bible Thumper” or talk about Jesus so much that people try to avoid you as much as possible. Just live each day for God and everything you do let it be done for His glory. What could that possibly do? Well, a few years ago we had a young man in his 20’s decide that he wanted to go through my church’s RCIA program. He’d led a pretty rough life and was currently part of a faith-based program to help men overcome addiction and substance abuse. When he was asked why he wanted to become Catholic he said it was because he saw the light and inner peace that the other guys in the program had, who had surrendered themselves to Jesus, and he wanted it to. Wow. These other guys didn’t sit there and shout at the young man about Jesus and being saved. Instead, they lived their lives to glorify God and that was enough to prove to the people around them just what the saving love of God can do for you.
“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13:34-35 (NABRE)
Think about it. Pray about it. Ask God to guide you on your mission to spread His love throughout your sphere of influence. And don’t forget to say, “Thank you.”