This week we have been serving at the Men’s Shelter. This service (which is among the many services to our community that happen through our little church) is one of the reasons I really like going to this particular church. It is living out your faith through service.
I started this entry and the words of James 2: 15-17 just jump out:
15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
This… is “putting our money where our mouth is”, and although at the time it is difficult and carries some hazard for those of us who have compromised immune systems, at the end of the day it is deeply satisfying. Although it is a challenging service, what with finding people to sign up and commit to the physical service (one problem in a church with an older population), the feeling of helping make things a bit more right after you’re done is somewhat addictive.
But you know it’s the right thing to do.
And so does God.
Speaking from the standpoint of having been of some small service to those who are less fortunate, it is entirely worth doing as a church body; and I wonder why more churches are not engaged in this kind of outreach.
One sees churches that spend much time and effort in organizing event after event for the membership; there is at least one men’s retreat and one women’s retreat on the schedule, maybe a family barbecue. And while that is good for the social aspect, it does little for helping those less fortunate.
I respectfully submit that while it’s great to go to church on Sunday, singing great songs and listening to great monologues … that Sunday night through next Sunday morning there are people you can help. People who don’t know where they will sleep, let alone find a meal.
If your church isn’t helping the homeless or those less fortunate on an ongoing basis… maybe – just maybe – it’s time to start? It’s more than just giving your money to causes far away; it’s giving of yourself in a way that helps someone close by, right here, right now. It is God, working right now, right here, through us.
The cost is minimal; the rewards, immense.
As a last thought:
Consider a modern version of Jesus and the disciples, standing in the temple, and the Pharisee is standing up front and saying “Oh God, I’m so glad I’m not like that person… I do so many things for my friends!”, and the tax collector, standing broken-hearted in a dark back corner, feeling completely unworthy of being in the sanctuary, crying out to God in great agony of spirit: “Oh God, have mercy on me! I am such a sinner! For I know that only by your grace that I have what little I do have in this world and I am so not worthy of your love!”