“Then Jesus asked them, ‘Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.”
Mark 3:4-5 (NIV)
How did the church ever become a country club? When did we decide it was a place to simply “Grow in the Lord” and not be a vibrant, loving witness for those outside our front doors? When did we give up the mission work to the “missionaries” and decide not to be the light of the world right in our back yard? Not many things made our Lord angry, but this was one. Don’t stand in the way of Him ministering to someone in need. What is so sad is that the Pharisees could have been a help. With their standing in the community, they could have went out and compelled people to come and meet the Messiah. What an impact they could have had on the world, but they were not able to get past their traditional views. Somehow, God loving people different then them, people that did not live the same kind of life as they did, was an offense. They did not see God’s love for the whole world and the mission Jesus was on. How about us? Do we reach out to those outside our church? Today, let us check our beliefs against the scriptures. Let’s compare our love for people with that of our Lord Jesus. We are His disciples. Let’s follow His words when he shared about the Good Samaritan and told us to, “Go and do likewise.”
Father, help me love people. Open my eyes, open my heart that I may reach out to others the way You would. Work in and through me I pray.
EXTRA READING: I wrote this the other night when I returned from going into Chicago. It is about helping the needy.
SUNDAY MORNING CHURCHES
I drove around Chicago looking for homeless people to feed and clothe. The streets were alive with traffic. Stores open, cars everywhere. More beer stores than you could imagine. It was only 9:00, too early for homeless to be sleeping but you could see people starting to congregate. The end of the subway line was busy as homeless people were getting ready to board and ride all night. Some were asking for money by the entrance to the expressway while some others were bundling up getting a choice spot under a viaduct. Young people were standing on the corners waiting to sell dope. And it wasn’t even late yet. I imagined the people living in the homes. How many were hurting finically? How many addicted. How many had abusive relationships. How many were lonely. How many children were getting ready to go to bed hungry.
But what really got me was how many churches I saw. Church after church with no lights on. Church after church closed to all the evening activity around them. No shelters, soup kitchen, youth centers, employment services or medical aid. However they all had signs reading, “Worship 10:00 Sunday A.M.”
All the hurting people. All the need and we are open one morning a week.
Now I know some churches are doing things. There are attempts at helping. We do a program here, a campaign there. A mission project or thanksgiving dinner.
But I am starting to understand that love is not an “act” it is a “life”. Love is more than a handout or an isolated mission project. It is continual shelter and food. It is helping a person finding a job. It is discipleship so the person doesn’t use drugs anymore. It is helping with medical issues and legal aid. It is coaching and counseling so the person comes into maturity. Then they go out and help others the way they were helped.
We need more than Sunday morning churches. We need shelters, job centers, childcare, kitchens, counseling, clinics and rehab programs. We need marriage seminars, tutoring, English as a second language, senior drop in centers and youth clubs.
We ought to be the light in each neighborhood that burn the brightest and the longest into the night. Part of membership should be volunteering a night a week meeting the needs of the neediest. Oh, and don’t worry, people will worship. They will study the scriptures because when a church loves people into the kingdom, they become radical disciples. They love God and will follow Him the way that you did.
That is how Jesus did it.
So should we.
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