Becoming a Force for Good

May 2, 2013

By Peter Amsterdam

Audio length: 13:40
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A key element to successfully reaching our part of the world with the Gospel message is showing a tangible example of God’s love to our community, our neighbors, our co-workers, colleagues and schoolmates, relatives, friends, and acquaintances.

Manifesting God’s love to those whom the Lord places in our path each day is at the heart of becoming a force for good. As the apostle Paul said, “the love of Christ compels us.”1 In whatever specific ways the Lord leads each of us to reach our part of the world with His love, He has called us as Christians to be “the light of the world.” He has told us to “let your light shine before people, so that they will see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”2 Letting that light shine in such a way that people will see your good works and see them as a reflection of God’s love is at the heart of the concept of being a force for good in your community, in your neighborhood, and in the lives of others.

Throughout the centuries, since the earliest days of Christianity, Christians have often reached the world through becoming known as a “force for good” in their community. Even when others didn’t necessarily embrace the Christians’ faith or understand their religion, or when they were persecuted and maligned, their kind deeds and good works shone brightly before all men, resulting in people wanting to know what made them so different from much of society. As the apostle Peter said in his Epistle, “Live such good lives among the [unbelievers] that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God.”3

As we each strive to reach out and become one with the local community; as we provide assistance—spiritual or practical, or both—to those the Lord puts in our path; as we do our part to bring God’s love to others and to better their lives in whatever ways we are able, our witness and our works will grow and serve as a “candle on a candlestick” to shine forth His light and a “city set on a hill” to draw others to Him.4

While many members of TFI have been reaching the world faithfully for decades and making a difference in the lives of people and in the countries they have served, our hope is that we will become even more effective in reaching the world and being a force for good in our local communities.

Let’s pray about ways in which we can build a positive presence in our local communities and truly become known as a force for good. Let’s ensure that our presentation of our faith and our works is professional, relatable, and appealing to the people we’re trying to reach.

We have so much to offer people, including our neighborhoods and local communities—a personal relationship with Jesus, answers to problems, assistance for those in need, and a vision for this life and for the future.

If we’re going to be effective in our outreach and reaching our part of the world, fostering goodwill in our local and national communities is an important key.—Being relevant to the people we are trying to reach and finding out what is meaningful to them, what is needed in the community, where we can make a difference in ways that will resonate as being helpful, appreciated, and relevant.

One of the themes that is woven throughout our guiding principles (encapsulated in our statement of faith, our core values, and our core purpose) is that of applying our Christianity to everyday life and translating our faith into action. Our TFI mission statement defines TFI as striving to “make a difference in our world by offering spiritual solutions for the challenges of life, and translating God’s love into actions that manifest kindness and compassion and improve the lives of others.”

When we talk about “reaching the world” and “making a difference,” it can help to break that down into specifics. In many cases, it will mean reaching people in your local community, whether that is your town or city or greater metropolitan area, or the greater community in your state or province or country in the case of far-reaching ministries. In other cases, it may mean reaching out to your neighborhood, your fellow students, your colleagues at work, your relatives, and other people the Lord brings across your path in your day-to-day activities and everyday life.

For those of you whose main career in life is the mission, you may be reaching specific audiences, but ultimately you’re seeking to reach your city, state or province, or your country (or the world!) with your mission-related activities, whether these are spiritual or humanitarian in nature, or both. Whether mission work is your full-time calling or you are participating in the mission part-time, your local community will often be a starting point for reaching your part of the world.

There are a few definitions for the word neighbor, one of which is “somebody who lives or is located very close by; for example, on the same street or in the same town.”5 Then there is the definition that is more closely aligned with the sense Jesus gave in the parable of the Good Samaritan: “one’s fellow human being,” and “a person who shows kindliness or helpfulness toward his or her fellow humans.”6

Reaching our part of the world and becoming a force for good is ultimately about reaching our neighbors (whether they’re those who live near us or those who don’t), and translating our faith into tangible actions and “good works” that express our love and concern—being a living example of our faith and God’s love, which is manifested in “walking the talk.” Showing our neighbors, colleagues, and community that we genuinely care, in ways that are meaningful to them and that tangibly express our faith and our values—as a practical application of our witness.

The motivation behind becoming a force for good in our community is, as stated in our core values, our “love for humankind … that knows no boundaries of race, creed, or status, motivates and guides us to help meet the needs of those we come in contact with, whether spiritually or practically.” It’s part of fulfilling our mission of sharing the good news of God’s love and truth, and seeking to improve others’ quality of life.


Good neighbor relations

I believe that our neighborhoods and local communities are where many of us will make a difference by building relationships and reaching out to others in meaningful ways. Simply being friendly, helping out when possible, being considerate, and upholding neighborhood expectations can go far toward opening doors of friendship and networking with others.

For those of you who are busy with other pursuits, whether work or study or caring for children, this can be a potential avenue for participating in the mission, and sharing your faith and friendship with others. You may not always be able to share your faith so openly with others in the neighborhood until you establish a personal relationship, but you can always build friendships, network, and show people you care in tangible ways.

There are many ways to contribute to your neighborhood or local community that will speak loudly as a good testimony of your Christian faith and God’s love and that will foster goodwill. Some examples of initiatives that represent proactive community relations:

We need to capitalize on what we have to offer. Above all, more important than professionalism, skills, or measurable talents, what we have to offer is Jesus and His love for people, which is largely manifested in our kindness, unselfishness, and caring spirit for others.

One of the ways in which we can manifest this is by showing an interest in the things that are important to other people. You may well find in your situation that you can’t enter into relations with your neighbors with an agenda of preaching the Gospel to them or inviting them to classes or Bible studies, at least not immediately. But you can always manifest kindness and a caring spirit that will serve as a living example of your faith and will be a positive influence in the lives of others. In many cases, pushing your religion too strongly on your neighbors can polarize them and force people to take sides. But being a good friend and neighbor is always welcome, and will in many cases eventually open the doors for you to share your faith in a personal way.

Being a good neighbor is generally the first step—being friendly, considerate, and respecting local cultural expectations. There are also proactive ways in which you can show an interest in the neighborhood, such as by participating in or coordinating drives or community projects, or school events where your children attend. Coaching a sports team in the neighborhood or volunteering in a neighborhood community center can be another way to get involved, and to give of your time to the local community.

Finding out what the need is and being willing to give of yourself or your time or resources to meet a need in your neighborhood can go a long way toward fostering goodwill and building friendships, which will ultimately be a testimony to your faith. Drawing a circle of friendship to include people in our hearts and lives is bound to bear fruit—if not immediately, in the long run.

Such initiatives could include food and clothing distribution, periodic or one-time programs at local shelters or orphanages, visiting the local home for the elderly, or having the children perform or distribute toys at the local hospital, etc. These types of initiatives may not represent a sustainable program or ongoing visitation, but may simply be visitation programs at Christmas or other special times of the year, or procuring and dropping off food and clothing or other needed supplies occasionally. While such activities may not represent a full-time mission work or what people would understand as a charitable or humanitarian work, they provide important services to the community, and can go far in touching the lives of the people who are on the receiving end.

Even if you don’t have a lot of time and resources, you can still reach out to your community and take the initiative to fill a need, showing solidarity, when possible, and an interest in the welfare and quality of life of others.

May the Lord bless your relations with your neighbors and local community, and may He help us all to be a force for good in our communities, a living example of our faith, translated into kind and caring actions that will bless the lives of others.

Originally published December 2010. Adapted and republished May 2013.
Read by Simon Peterson.

1 2 Corinthians 5:14 NKJV.

2 Matthew 5:14, 16 ESV.

3 1 Peter 2:12 NIV.

4 Matthew 5:15, 14 KJV.

5 Encarta World English Dictionary 2001.


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