Call of Duty

You may think we’re crazy, but we just added a third dog to our household… a puppy, no less! As expected, this little creature quickly transformed our living room into a virtual war zone. Rugs, shoes and other floor-level accessories were quickly evacuated; our warm décor now replaced by a network of gates, fences, and a minefield of random chew toys.

But there’s way more to this puppy tale than the chaos in our house. Our new pet is actually a service dog in training. Even as she romps around at this young age, virtually every aspect of her behavior has a protocol. Forget the classic canine dreams of frolicking in the backyard or sleeping away the afternoon on a sun-drenched couch. A year from now she’ll be leaving us to become a guide dog for the vision-impaired. It’s a call to active duty and immense responsibility; a non-stop commitment to leadership for the better years of her life. Bred specifically for service, this mission has been planned for her well before she was even born.

On the surface, it may seem unfair that our puppy will give up her “dog’s life” for a life of service. And unfortunately, many people in our culture today view Christianity in a similar way. They don’t want to surrender their precious free time for the church. Why “waste” their good years living under biblical guidelines, doing Christian service, or feeling compelled to act a certain way? They view God as an intrusion to a potentially better and more fun-filled lifestyle.

Christians are not immune to this cultural mindset. In fact, the concept of God’s love and grace can even lend itself to an attitude of apathy or laziness at times. Romans 11:6 says, we’ve been saved through grace, and not by works, right? So why should we spend our lives doing “good works” when we could be doing our own thing? Let’s look at three reasons.

1. We were created to do good works

Our first answer is found in Ephesians 2:10: For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” This verse makes it clear that although we’re not saved by good works, the Lord has created us to do good works. In fact, if we were to avoid doing the good works God has planned for us, we would be overlooking the whole reason we were created. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “I knew you before I formed you… Before you were born I set you apart…”

Imagine owning a brand new iPhone, but only using it for the alarm clock feature… or leaving a beautiful new car sitting in the garage 24/7 so you can listen to its stereo system. Both items are still serving a purpose, but they’re not being used in the way they were designed and intended -- and they’re definitely not fulfilling their incredible potential. In the same way, our God-given purpose and potential will never be fully realized unless we pursue the mission for which He has created and called us for.

1 Peter 4:10 – “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.”

2. Good works are evidence of our salvation and bring glory to God

In James 2:17 we read, “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” And verse 26 says, As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

At first it might seem that the Bible is contradicting the passage from Romans 11:6 we mentioned earlier. But James is not teaching here that we’re saved by a combination of our faith in Christ and our own good works. His point was this: we don’t do good works in order to be saved – we do good works because we are saved. The evidence of true faith in Christ is good works. Good works are not the means of our salvation, but they are the evidence of our salvation.

This evidence of our salvation also brings glory to God. Christians have a difficult but important role in this sinful world. We’re put here to fulfill God’s purposes, so that others might see Him in us and through us. God has a mission for us to do in His name.

Matthew 5:16 - ”Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

1 Peter 2:12 - “Live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

3. Good works are fulfilling and will be rewarded

We’ve all heard stories of unbelievers who lived long and prosperous lives before trusting Christ at an old age. Their earthly years were filled with personal indulgence and very little concern for God until the very end. It might seem like these people found a “loophole in the system,” right? After all, they got to live a “fun and care-free life" on earth, but still inherited a glorious eternity in Heaven!

Although this scenario may sound slightly unfair at first, Christians really should have the opposite viewpoint. Pursuing worldly things in this life will never bring true satisfaction. A lifestyle void of a relationship with God and service to Him misses the most important aspects of true contentment:

- The complete joy that only a close relationship with God can provide while on earth. (John 15:11 - I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”)

- The fulfillment of doing what God created us for. (Philippians 2:13 - “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”)

- The opportunity to gain Heavenly reward for our efforts on earth. (Matthew 6:19-20 - “Don’t store up treasures here on earth… Store your treasures in heaven…”
Revelation 22:12 - “I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds.”)

Answering the call

Going back to our new puppy… right now she's in full training for future service. That starts by learning to listen and submit to her master. This same concept applies to us as Christians as well. 1 Peter 5:6 says, So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up...”

In order for us to know God’s will, we must first listen for it. Matthew 6:33 says, Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness…” [emphasis added]. After that, it’s time to submit and get involved. Through prayer and guidance from our church leaders and fellow believers, we can be sure God will direct us into the specific area of service He’s planned for each one of us. Philippians 1:6 tells us “God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished…”

Our puppy was born and bred to serve. She’s not complaining or running away. She’s among countless service dogs who are most happy when they’re fulfilling their purpose. The same should be true for all of us as Christians! The God who created us for a special purpose doesn’t want us to be bored or disconsolate. He calls us to use what we enjoy and do best for His glory. That’s when we’ll feel most complete – when we answer our true call of duty.

1 Samuel 12:24 - “But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. Consider what great things he has done for you!”

- Ron Reid

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