You know the feeling, right? The sense of dread as you ease your car to the end of the parking lot driveway and see a person standing there holding a sign. You know you have to stop right in front of them because you can’t just peel out into traffic. That feels really uncomfortable and so what do you do? Smile? Wave? Ignore and pretend you don’t see?
According to this weeks scripture, there’s a different approach to take.
Luke 3:11New Living Translation (NLT)
11 John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.”
It would seem that, according to the way God wants us to live, we should help the person holding the sign. That’s right – roll down the window and give that person a dollar, or roll down the window and give that person some food, or a coat, or a ride somewhere, or a place to stay, or …. ask that person how you can help and then do it.
The example I’m using here is literal, but there’s a larger context behind what John the Baptist is saying. John’s purpose was to ready people for the coming of the Messiah and to help them understand that they were going to need to make some changes if they wanted to live in relationship with Him and with God. John was reiterating what has been written over and over and over again in the scriptures…. God COMMANDS that we live in loving community with each other.
‘You want to be happy?’, God says, ‘Then here’s what you do. You love ME with all your heart, your mind, and your spirit. After that, you LOVE AND TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER.’
That theme is all over the place. It runs throughout the entire bible. If you’re interested to learn more email me and I’ll send you a list of scriptures saying that very thing over and over in different ways. God’s way for us to live is as a COMMUNITY OF PEOPLE who SEE and KNOW and CARE FOR each other.
At a girlfriends house yesterday I was told about an old person who had died on his couch and laid there for over 20 days before someone found him. Sadly, the story isn’t unique. Why is that? Where was that old guys community? Shopping? Watching the NCIS? Planning for their retirement?
My church just started feeding “homeless” people on Friday nights. Guess who comes for dinner? Old people. There are so many seniors who just don’t have anyone. There’s no one there to care for them, to make up for what they lack, to assist them in caring for themselves, to notice when they die.
The good part about this is that the church is getting involved in the community – not just our little segregated church community, but the larger community, the secular community. The church is inviting any and all who are hungry to come and be fed.
The good part is that now we are seeing these people. We are seeing these seniors who have no one. We are seeing these families on the edge. We are seeing these who are falling through the cracks. We are getting the opportunity to get to know these people and their stories and DO SOMETHING TO HELP THEM. Give them a shirt. Give them some food.
GOD’S PRESCRIBED WAY TO LIVE DOESN’T ALLOW HIS PEOPLE TO FALL THROUGH THE CRACKS. God’s prescribed way to live means being involved in the community you are a part of and caring for those who need it. Period. The ironic thing is, if we truly lived that way, we wouldn’t have homeless people. And we wouldn’t have old people laying dead on their couches for twenty something days. I mean, think about it.
This week I encourage all of us to put some time into thinking about what it means to be a part of community according to the Word of God. If the thought comes that you don’t have anything to give, then let me ask you this…. Do you have two shirts? Of course you have something to give. You are being provided for by a generous and loving God.
Pray. Ask Holy Spirit to guide you in how you can be of service, how you can become more deeply involved in your community according to God’s plan and purpose and the answer will come. Perhaps you’ll meet a senior or a young person or a family who are on the verge of falling through the cracks. Could you adopt that old or young person or family? Take them a casserole once a week?
It’s not just about giving money. It’s about seeing the people around you and acknowledging their existence, whatever that ‘existence’ looks like for them, and then sharing the gifts you have received. It happens through relationship, through getting to know the people around you. And not on facebook. Facebook isn’t going to make and serve that bowl of soup. What’s required to make real change, to really live in accordance to God’s Word, is face to face interpersonal human interaction.
Use your imagination. Get your friends together and brainstorm about something you can do as a group that will have an impact on your community. Better yet, brainstorm about something you can do as a group to get to know your community. That’s really the place to start. Get out of your house and into the community you are a part of. What can you do this week to get beyond your immediate surroundings and comfort levels? How can you meet some more of the people in your community with God’s intentions in mind?
I’m obviously really passionate about this and I hope my passion rubs off on you a little. Let’s LOVE EACH OTHER. Let’s make the change that John the Baptist so wisely prophesied for us so long ago! Let’s learn to live in community the way GOD has asked us to!
If you feel inspired by what I’ve written this week, write Luke 3:11 out and tape it to your bathroom mirror or your refrigerator. Meditate on the deep meaning behind it. Meditate on the sea change that John was calling for in order for us to truly live in the presence of God. It stands as true today as it did those thousands of years ago. Believe me, to follow this mandate will be one of the most rewarding things you could ever possibly experience. I hope you join me.