Religion

Churches offer many chances to serve God

I really want to serve God, but I don’t know how. Just showing up at church doesn’t seem like much, but what else should I be doing? — Mrs. M.W.

“Just showing up at church” may not seem like much to you — but it shows others that God is important to you, and is a good example to them. It also gives you an opportunity to learn more about God’s plan for your life, and to grow in your faith in Christ.

But your church is important for another reason: It’s a good place to find opportunities to serve God. Almost every church I know depends on volunteers to help carry on its ministry — from singing in the choir or keeping the nursery, to leading a Bible study or helping in the church office. Your church may be involved in community projects also that need volunteers. Check your church bulletin for openings, and let your pastor know also of your willingness to help.

But you can serve God in other ways also. All around you are people who need Christ, and need to be touched by His love. Are you praying for them, and are you asking God to help you reach out to them? A sick neighbor . . . a young person who needs encouraging . . . a lonely elderly person — the list is almost endless. The Bible says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these . . . you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

Ask God to show you the gifts and abilities He has given you. Then ask Him to show you how He wants you to use them — and He will.

I don’t believe God would ever condemn anyone or send them to what you Christians call “hell.” I believe God is perfect love, and He has an infinite capacity to overlook the sins we commit. Why do some preachers keep talking about hell? — N.J.

It may surprise you to learn that the person in the Bible who talked the most about hell was Jesus — and that’s one reason why Christians take it so seriously. Jesus warned, “Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

I realize Jesus’ words may not have much impact on you right now, since you don’t believe in Him. But have you honestly realized what it would mean if God simply ignored all the sin and wickedness in the world, and never condemned anyone for their evil deeds — no matter how monstrous? This would mean there is no such thing as right or wrong, and tyrants like Hitler or Stalin would never be judged for their evil deeds.

But the Bible says otherwise. Evil is real, and someday God will judge it and bring it to an end. The Bible warns, “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

Yes, God’s judgment is real. But listen: You don’t have to fear it — and the reason is because Jesus Christ took upon Himself the judgment and hell we deserve. He did this because God loves us and wants us to be with Him in heaven forever. Turn to Christ and open your heart to Him today.

I don’t think it makes any difference what religion you follow, as long as you sincerely believe in some spiritual power higher than yourself. In my opinion, all religions end up in the same place; they just take different paths to get there. — S.R.

Let me ask you a question: Do you apply this idea or principle to any other part of life? In other words, do you think it really doesn’t make any difference how you act, as long as you are sincere?

For example, if the doctor writes you a prescription, do you tell him that you aren’t going to bother getting it filled because it doesn’t make any difference which medicine you take, as long as you’re sincere? I seriously doubt it. Or do you avoid warning your children about the dangers of traffic, because you think it won’t make any difference what they do? No, of course not. Life constantly confronts us with decisions - and every one has a wrong way and a right way.

The same is true with God - and one reason is because God Himself has given us the right way. Only one thing separates us from God, and that is our sin. But Jesus Christ came into the world to make our forgiveness possible - and He did this by becoming the final and complete sacrifice for our sins.

When we trust Christ and open our hearts to Him, God forgives us and gives us salvation as a free gift. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Don’t be deceived, but receive God’s gift by committing your life to Christ today.

My uncle never had anything to do with God, but on his deathbed his wife’s pastor supposedly led him to Christ. Do you think God actually forgave him and allowed him into heaven, although he’d lived like the devil? — G.R.

Only God knows whether or not your uncle truly repented of his sins and trusted Christ for His salvation before he died — but if he did, God fully forgave him, and you can be confident that he is now in heaven forever. Jesus said, “I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).

Remember: We are never saved because of how good we are, or because of how much we did for Jesus. In other words, we’re never saved because we deserve it — never. We are saved only because of God’s grace and mercy, and because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross for us. If your uncle truly accepted Christ, he was saved solely because he believed Christ died for his salvation. The Bible says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith” (Ephesians 2:8).

Do you remember the two men who were crucified with Jesus? Unlike Him, they both were guilty — and in only a few hours, they both would die. One of them mocked Jesus and turned away in scorn — but the other turned to Jesus in faith and asked to be forgiven and saved. Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Thank God for your uncle’s salvation - but don’t follow his example! Instead, open your heart to Jesus Christ without delay, and discover the joy of following Him the rest of your life.

Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit www.billygraham.org.

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