Ten Ways to be Effective Citizens for God
As most of you know, I’m currently serving on active duty, and I have been for the past fifteen years. This week, I received an email that was a message from the Sergeant Major of the Army, and his message was one of encouragement to Non-commissioned Officers. The intent was to bring ideas of true leadership to the front of our minds and remind us what a true leader looks like. While I was reading this message, I couldn’t help but think of how universal the principals are and how well they apply to Body of Messiah and our role in leading the rest of the world to God.
While God does call all of us to different roles within the Body, these ten principals should be applied to all of our lives in order to serve God and serve each other most effectively. Of course, I’ve tweaked the wording of each point a bit to be most applicable to us, but the general ideas come from that email I received this week. The link to the email is at the bottom of this blog in case anyone is interested in reading it.
1. Knowledge doesn’t make you a good citizen; community does.
We can study the Bible every waking hour and become the most knowledgeable people of the Bible in the world, but until we put that knowledge to use in a productive way in our communities, we aren’t participating as active and effective citizens in God’s Kingdom. Sitting at home and refusing fellowship with other believers simply because you can’t agree on a checklist of theological points is not productive for the Kingdom of God. Throughout the entire Scriptures, unity of God’s people is always of high importance regardless of differences. The very fact that we are currently under the punishment of dispersion as a Kingdom shows the importance of unity in itself.
References: Malachi 2:10, 1 Corinthians 1:10, Ephesians 4:11-13, Psalm 133:1, Ephesians 4:3, Romans 12:16, 2 Chronicles 30:12, and many more.
2. Think before you speak.
I had a discussion this week sitting in a hospital waiting room about the importance of our tongues and the effect it has on our walks and our witness. In our walk of Torah, we often focus so much on the fact that God has given us instructions on what to eat, but we ignore the topic of how much more important it is to guard what leaves our mouths. The Scriptures speak much more about how we use our tongues for words than how we use them to sustain our physical bodies, but we never want to address that issue as much as the other. If we are to be effective members of God’s Kingdom on earth, we must learn to be slow to speak and stop spewing the first thing that bubbles up our throats in order to be right or first. Our words should be carefully calculated to ensure they’re for the edification of the Body of Messiah.
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. -Ephesians 4:29
References: Proverbs 18:21, Ephesians 5:4, Proverbs 11:19, Proverbs 15:1, James 3:5-8, Matthew 12:26-27, and more
3. If you find that you often have to remind people that you’re a believer in Yeshua (Jesus) and that you’re walking in His footsteps, you’re probably off course.
I was having a conversation about titles one day with a close friend, and we were discussing all of the titles that are thrown around for this walk. Hebrew Roots. Messianic. Torah-Observant. Truth-Seekers. You get the point. Everyone always wants to know what kind of believer we are, how we label ourselves as a group of like-minded believers. He stated that he only wants to respond to those questions like Yeshua did. Yeshua was discussing with His disciples how the men were referring to Him. They responded that people were suggesting all different ideas about who He was, but He then asked them the question, “Who do you say that I am?” And what was Peter’s response? “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” When people ask us what kind of Christian we are or what denomination we are, we should simply ask who they say we are. If the answer doesn’t include “followers of Jesus” or “child of God” or “faithful man or woman”, then we have stumbled off the path somewhere. Other people should see the Light of the World shining His Light through us regardless of theological differences.
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. -Hebrews 12:14
References: Matthew 5:16, 1 John 1:5-9
4. You have to work very hard at being more informed and less emotional.
Sometimes, what we think to be a new “truth” isn’t a new truth at all. Sometimes, we’re just regurgitating something that sounds good and different, and if it’s different than the rest of Christianity, it must be true. This isn’t always the case. As the article states, we must “take the time to do the research”. Real research, not reading internet blogs or watching YouTube videos. If we’re to be the ones to bring Truth to the Body, we better make sure that’s what we’re bringing.
One change I will bring to this point is that there is a single emotion that shouldn’t be left out in all of this. That emotion is love. I recently read 1 Corinthians 13 as part of a wedding ceremony, and we all know that chapter as it is read so many times for weddings. It fits. However, when we look at the letter as a whole, that portion was intended for the Body of Messiah not just individual marriages. That truth hit me so hard during that wedding. We can have hold of every truth of the Bible, but if we don’t hold onto that truth while serving others in love, it means nothing.
that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ -Ephesians 4:14-15
5. It’s ok to have fun.
You know what the most pious men of Israel did in the Temple, in the Court of the Women, during the week of Sukkot? They juggled fire. They turned flips. There’s a time for reverence and respect for our King, but sometimes we lose our smiles all around. It’s ok to have fun. It’s ok to go bowling with other believers. It’s ok to have a BBQ (so long as we keep it kosher, right?). It’s ok to let loose in worship before our King and smile. God has called us to live in joy, and if people don’t look at us and see joy, then what is the image of God that we are portraying? If we aren’t spreading the joy of God to others, are we being effective citizens of the Kingdom of God?
Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God. -Ecclesiastes 2:24
References: Ecclesiastes 8:15, 1 Corinthians 10:31, Deuteronomy 12:7, Psalm 149:3, Proverbs 17:22, 2 Samuel 6:16
6. Don’t be the feared one.
If people see you coming and run the other way for whatever reason, something isn’t working. I used to know a man who used to trap people with conversations, ones that weren’t beneficial or uplifting at all. People would literally run the other way to avoid his delivery of “truth”. Often, I see people complaining that others just don’t want to hear truth if they aren’t listening to them. Sure, there are times when others don’t want to hear the truth, or at least our version of truth. However, our deliverance of that information is often what causes people to run. How can we expect to be effective citizens in the Kingdom if no one wants to be around us?
Reference: John 3:18-21
7. Don’t do anything – and I mean anything – negative towards others over email, text, or social media.
When dealing with other people, this isn’t just good advice, it’s a Biblical mandate. This point falls under the point about what comes out of our mouths as well, but it deserves its own spot. Too many times we resort to passive aggressive Facebook posts about others or even other general groups, or we text our issues to those people or even other people not involved. I was just talking to Nathan and Laymond the other day about how it’s easy to speak negative about other people when we don’t have to look at them face-to-face. It’s harder to do so when we look into their eyes. Keyboard warriors are an issue of the world. They shouldn’t be an issue of the Body of Messiah. If you’re speaking negative about someone else, you need to go to them, and a text doesn’t cut it. If all you ever do is post negative posts about others who don’t agree with you, you should reassess your postings.
References: Matthew 18:15-17, 1 John 4:20, Galatians 6:1, John 13:34
8. Being nervous is a good thing.
Again, I was talking recently to Laymond and Nathan. Laymond relayed that he still gets nervous every time he gets up to give a message or teaching, and we both agreed with him. We all unified in the idea that it’s not only ok to be nervous but a good thing to be nervous. Being nervous about your walk and your approach to other people shows that you understand the seriousness of your walk with God. It shows your humility in knowing that you can fail at times because you know that you don’t have it all figured out. Being nervous pushes you to do your best and be your best before God and His people. Being nervous shows that you need others, a truth we should all realize. Being nervous is having the fear of God.
References: Deuteronomy 6:24, Psalm 112:1, Proverbs 19:23, Luke 1:50, Malachi 3:16-17
9. If you justify being an expert in the Bible with your age or your time spent “walking in Torah”, then you should take a break and reassess your walk.
Time spent doing something does not qualify experts, and we should all realize that at no point on this side of the World to Come will anyone be an expert at walking with God. There’s a reason why we’re told to always remember (some would suggest that means daily) our Exodus from Egypt. We should always remember that at one point we didn’t know nearly as much as we know now. We should also remember that we still have much to learn, and part of that learning is knowing that we can learn something from everyone. God is able and often willing to use anyone, even the most unlikely, to teach us the personal lessons He wants us to learn. Instead of pretending we are experts in all truth, we should humble ourselves and see what we can learn from everyone around us. Sometimes, we miss the lessons God intimately wants to show us because we are too caught up in being experts to others.
A wise man will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel -Proverbs 1:5
10. Never forget that you’re just a brother or sister in Messiah.
Nothing about a deeper walk with God makes you better than anyone else. Nothing about knowing more about God’s Word makes you better than anyone else. Those things should only make you better at humbly serving others.
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. -Deuteronomy 10:17
References: Ephesians 2:14, Ephesians 5:21, Philippians 2:3, Proverbs 22:2, Romans 2:11, Malachi 2:10
I hope this list encourages you to look at your walk with a deeper look. As believers in Messiah, we are all members of the Commonwealth of Israel, God’s Kingdom, but are we being effective members? Are we impacting the world around us in positive, uplifting, and encouraging ways that shoves people towards God or a closer walk with Him?