I was driving the other day to see my husband's family and I drove by one of the many local churches in this small city. I was shocked to see them building on. I joking call that particular church The Mall of God because when they were first building it, the resemblance was to a shopping centre rather than place of worship.
Now I know God doesn't care what our church looks like on the outside. I do know that. But when I think mall and not church it strikes a strange chord with me. When I see them building on it strikes another. This is a large church which is a satellite of another larger church with multiple services, many activities nightly, in-church coffee shop and more. And there is nothing wrong with that but I have to wonder, how are we serving our brothers and sisters in need with a many hundreds of thousands of dollars building?
Then I was reading my morning prayer book, Quiet Moments with God by Lloyd John Ogilvie this was the verse for the next day.
"Whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth." 1 John 3:17-18
We can shout to the heavens, to the nightly news, to the faith based blog of our choice about our love. We can share with our people how generous we are to them and how we are building a community together. You can, I can, anyone can. But where do we SEE the love? Where do we see the deeds and truth?
It is hard to know how to help sometimes, at least I find it so, and often we seek to find direction from the church. I'm not sure about you, but I'm not comfortable asking how can we help the street kids, the flooded off reserve families and the children in care to a church busy spending dollars building a bigger building. It's like asking someone who is building a mansion about the value of micro housing.
And yet I am not judging them because I do not know their reasons, motivations or plans but looking at that church as a believer I have the right to ask. We all do. You can ask it of your own church and you could ask it of someone else's church. We can ask in love and with respect because we truly wish to know, we wish to understand.
We all, as a body of believers, are to care for each other. Brothers and sisters. Love one another. Love them as you love yourself. Love your God with all your heart, mind, body and soul. With it all. Every fibre, every nerve, every blood vessel carrying life. Every breath. Every tear.
If we are to follow the examples in the New Testament for starters, what do we see? Jesus, the pure and blameless, hanging out with the worst of the worst. And not just anonymously handing them stuff or leaving a bag in a bin but actually living, loving, praying for and healing them. He knew them and loved them. Dirty rags, bleeding bodies, demon tormented and lust-filled, the greedy and the lost, the hope-filled and the hope stealing all were touched by Him.
I'm not going to list the passages for you, this time you go find them! Open that Bible, and walk with Jesus and really look for the people He loved. It is us! He is loving us! He is saving us! Those who raised their fists to Him and those who shed their tears for Him. God would have given Him anyone and He choose to redeem us all!
Touch the dirty and wipe the tears. Open your heart and share what you have. God wants us to love as best we can in truth and deed, as well as in heart. Does that mean opening your family to someone recently banished by their own? Does that mean giving away those clothes you've been saving to cloth another? Does that mean sharing your garden, your weekend or your love? Yes! Yes! YES!
We all have something to share with someone who has nothing to give back. That's love. That is serving our brothers and sisters. We may not be able to go on a mission to a far away place but we can mission right where we are. God has us here for a reason. I'm humbly and prayerfully asking Him to show us all that reason!