I was listening to a sermon my friend posted to his blog the other day. The preacher mentioned the firefighters and rescue workers who risked their lives running into the Twin Towers during the 9/11 attacks. I’m sure some of them knew they were going to die in there, but went willingly because a sense of duty drove them.
It was the words “sense of duty” that caught my attention. I realized that we as believers are sorely lacking a sense of duty. We seem to want to pick and choose spiritual disciplines, convictions, standards, and amounts we give and serve based on how we feel or claim to be “led”. I know some who won’t even pray at all unless they “feel led“.
I know what some of you are thinking, “Uh oh, he’s gone all legalistic on us. We should be motivated by our love for Christ, not a sense of duty!” You have a great point, however love is not, never has been, and never will be a warm fuzzy feeling that leads us to good deeds to put a smile on Jesus’ face.
I’ll give you an example. I’ve been married for seventeen years now. It comes as no surprise that we’re not always walking on cloud nine together. Sure we share some great moments and those romantic feelings are wonderful when they’re present. But when they’re not present, I still provide, protect, and care for my wife out of a sense of duty. I do what any good husband should do because I made a commitment to do it when I fell in love with her. Get it? We possess a sense of duty BECAUSE we love.
In Genesis chapter 4 God says that refusing to do what’s right (not what we’re “led” to do) is just a baby step away from sin gaining control over us. Jesus said in Mathew 25 that when we turn our backs on those in need, we turn our backs on Him. The absolute apathy of so many believers is downright frightening! To quote Keith Green, “Jesus came to your door, but you left Him out on the street.”
So my question is this: are you the type of person who would run into a burning building to save the lives of others, or would you rather enjoy the fresh air and safety while those inside burn? We’re guilty as hell if we do nothing. Think about that the next time you think sharing Jesus, helping the oppressed, and feeding the poor are for those who feel called.
It’s as if so many of us have succumbed to the Bystander Effect. The case of Kitty Genovese is the most well known example of this effect. Kitty was stabbed to death in 1964 by a serial rapist and murderer. According to newspaper accounts, the killing took place for at least a half an hour. The murderer attacked and stabbed her, but then fled the scene after attracting the attention of a neighbor. The killer then returned ten minutes later and finished the assault. Newspaper reports after Genovese’s death claimed that 38 witnesses watched the stabbings and failed to intervene. I’m sure all 38 of those people thought, “Someone will help her.” They were wrong.
Like the rescue workers of 9/11, we have got to develop a sense of duty, an URGENCY to fulfill the great commission and help the downtrodden. When I stand before God, I want to hear “well done”. I want to be the kind of person who runs toward danger to rescue the lost and oppressed. It takes commitment, it’s a sign of love (John 15:13), and it requires a sense of duty.