Simon Sinek says that, in order to motivate people to act, we have to start with the why. We can tirelessly explain exactly what we want a person to do, and that might work temporarily. But if we really want to call someone to action, that person must be motivated by deep rooted belief rather than simple instruction.
I think this is why Jesus’ primary message was “the kingdom of God is at hand” rather than “do good stuff.”
And if Christians miss this, we will keep calling people to do good works, forcing ourselves to later explain why we do good works.
That’s when we end up saying things like, “because that’s what Christians do” or “true joy is found in serving others.”
These things are true, sure.
But remember, a lot of people have died for Jesus. And I doubt their willingness to die came from strongly held opinions about servant leadership.
It’s deeper than that.
Jesus started with the best why imaginable.
The kingdom of God.
How do we know the Kingdom of God is really at hand?
Well… Jesus healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, walked on water, drove out demons, gave himself as a ransom, DEFEATED DEATH, and now sits next to our Father in heaven.
If these things weren’t true, fewer people would be willing to die for Jesus.
Could you imagine?
“Why are you willing to put your life on the line for Jesus?”
“Well, you know, I just believe in love and stuff like that.”
That’s not compelling at all.
Then there’s this answer:
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…” (Hebrews 1:1-3, ESV)
For over a decade, I’ve had the joy of serving the poor and marginalized.
More recently, God has led others to this same work, and I have the honor of serving next to them.
Why are we doing this work?
Because we pity the less fortunate?
Because it’s getting cold and the homeless need help with material resources?
Are we doing it because Christians ought to help the poor, forgotten, and marginalized?
These motivations certainly swirl in our heads and hearts.
But our why is bigger than that.
We reach out to the poor because Jesus is the heir of all things, the medium for all creation, and the radiance of the glory of God.
Because he holds the whole universe together.
Because he has purified our sins and taken a seat next to God.
Our hearts are for the poor and marginalized because the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
And in this kingdom, there is one motivation for every good work:
The fact that Jesus is indeed in charge of it all.