In this series, we are exploring our CHRIST-centred, OTHERS-focused faith. We now come to R—responsibility. We are called to faithfully use all we are for God’s glory. Major Deana Zelinsky reflects on how responsibility encompasses stewardship, discernment and decision-making, relation to authority, and our response to God’s call.
“Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6). This is our calling as followers of Christ—to use our abilities in response to grace. We might say this is our response-ability to God’s work in us.
Living an observable faith is the Christian response to God’s work in our world and is only made possible through his Spirit’s work in us. Does the way we live our lives—our speech, actions, the choices we make with our resources, the work we put into relationships—point people to Jesus? It becomes evident as we accept his invitation to join in the work of ushering in the kingdom of God.
I have been blessed to call two strong, influential and wise women “Mom.” My mother and mother-in-law came to faith in very different circumstances and contexts, but I had a front-row seat to their Christ-centred, others-focused living in response to God’s love.
My mother-in-law, Betty, accepted Jesus as her Saviour at a mid-week prayer meeting at The Salvation Army’s Hamilton Temple, Ont. Although she didn’t know all the implications at the time, she knew she wanted her life to be different, and she believed Jesus was the answer to her search. She gave her heart to the Lord and, from that point on, was released from addiction and despair and forever changed by the Holy Spirit, full stop. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
As a result, every aspect of her life looked different. She went from full stop to full steam ahead—studying the teachings of Jesus, giving generously of her time and abilities to her corps and community, and supporting people in their time of need. As time passed and her faith matured, my mother-in-law began to tackle the more challenging aspects of “living as Jesus did,” such as repairing broken relationships, making difficult decisions that implied personal sacrifice and surrender, and speaking truth to power.
My mother Judy’s salvation story was notably less dramatic, but her faith journey was equally influential and observable. My parents opened their home, hosting weekly Bible studies and prayer groups, and they made space for children in the care of the Children’s Aid Society, providing safety, stability and love. My mom advocated for the rights of children, their parents and other foster parents. All of this—and more—was the result of the Spirit’s power at work within her.
This was their response-ability to God’s grace and love. Their lives reflected the coming of the kingdom of God on earth through a close relationship with Jesus and serving others.
We all have access to God’s Spirit, who empowers us and uses our abilities to the benefit of others. Although it is embodied differently by each of us—as it was for my moms—our lived-out faith points to Jesus.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God’s grace is compelling. As we read the Gospels, we observe Jesus caring for the poor, marginalized and oppressed, and he invites us to follow him. We are called to live out our faith by taking responsibility for others.
This is embedded in our covenant for Salvation Army officers: love the unloved and befriend those who have no friends. Commissioner Robert Street expands the call and covenant to all followers of Jesus. In Day by Day: Call to Mission, he writes, “The closer we follow Jesus, the more we will reflect his mission to those who are marginalized, excluded or overlooked.” His words echo the call of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesian church: “live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1).
How is your walk with Jesus? What response-ability of yours can the Holy Spirit use to be others-focused? To be Christ-centred and others-focused, responsibility and response-ability go hand in hand.
Major Deana Zelinsky is the training principal at the College for Officer Training in Toronto.
Photo: Africa Studio/stock.Adobe.com
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