As i sit in the comfort of my sufficiently cool duplex, God tears my heart apart for the poor. He opens me up and pours in the reality of the kingdom. The kingdom of God is a kingdom of service, not a kingdom of power. Every time God begins to teach me something, He starts by breaking me and causing my mind and heart to search not only the depths of Him but of myself. With every self searching moment, He places a question in my heart. Today the question has evolved into questions – “why do we wait until holidays or special occassions to give a portion of our excess to charity? How can we truly live a life that resembles that of Christ and not personally know the poor?”
Giving is a beautiful glimpse into the heart of Christ and His generosity, but it’s only a glimpse. I’m struggling to remember the scripture in which Christ tells us to give to our local salvation army and they will clothe the poor. It’s vague but i don’t recall scripture saying, “When I was hungry, you brought a can of food to the food bank at christmas and they fed me.” I’m not sure I’ve got those right….”
Christ specifically says in Matthew, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'” For many christians today (or grouping us into “churches”), the poor and oppressed are kept in an alternate world, but we can access this mysteriously misread world through our local food bank.
Author and activist Shane Claiborne wrote,
The church becomes a distribution center, a place where the poor come to get stuff and the rich come to dump stuff. Both go away satisfied (the rich feel good, the poor get clothed and fed), but no one leaves transformed… Jesus did not set up a program but modeled a way of living that incarnated the reign of God, a community in which people are reconciled and our debts are forgiven just as we forgive our debtors (all economic words). That reign did not spread through organizational establishments or structural systems. It spread like disease — through touch, through breath, through life. it spread through people infected by love.
Are we so obsessed with creating multi-million dollar buildings to “reach” thousands so that we can build more, preach more, and sing more? I’m beginning to wonder where Jesus is in all this expansion. I wonder where Christ fits into our five year plan when all it involves is having more services and a fuller sanctuary while the hungry stay hungry and the homeless stay homeless. I’m struggling with our focus on expanding our territory and target demographic all the while spending millions on metal and wood; metal and wood that don’t construct anything significant. We are so focused on the latest culturally relevant idea to pull more people in that we’ve forgotten about what millions of dollars would do for the homeless an impoverished in our area.
What would $1,000,000 do in your community for poverty stricken, the uneducated, the hungry, the homeless?
What if churches stopped constructing buildings and started building communities?
Community doesn’t come through the front doors of a church. Community leaves the front doors and goes to the masses pushed to the margins and sits with them in love, in encouragement, sharing everything they have.
What does your congregation look like? anyone homeless? anyone poor? anyone different than you? if not, then do something about it?
Excuses for disregarding the outcast aren’t enough anymore.
I think i’ll leave this one like this… open ended for you to search for yourself. I don’t want anyone to feel guilted into relationships because all that does is cause more hurt for someone else.
Today, may your heart be troubled.
May you cry for the broken.
May you be led to do something about it.
Community starts with you loving your neighbor.
Grace and Peace