Is This What Jesus Would Do?

My heart is breaking tonight for Laura (not her real name) and her child.  I am so sorrowful after becoming aware of her situation.  She is just a young woman, maybe a 20 something…a girl actually.  Her live-in boyfriend, or common-law husband or maybe even possibly her husband (I’m not sure of the legal relationship)  has been arrested at his new job.  He is young too, not a newcomer to the criminal justice system, but one well indoctrinated.  His overwhelming outflowing of tears over his predicament today paralyzed Laura emotionally.   He has been in prison at least 3 times.  Laura says she will wait for him and try to find a way until he gets out.  Today, he was arrested for a serious offense…including drugs.  Yes many of us will say and agree he belongs where he is tonight.  He is looking at prison time, again.  Drugs seem to usually be involved in situations like these.  He will be a statistic for sure.  Laura will also be a statistic and unfortunately, her baby will make several statistical charts before he is grown.  But these three souls are not statistics.  

 Both of these young adults claim to have trusted Christ for salvation.   They are not just statistics. They are each individuals made in the image of their Creator.   Laura has a baby who is in the child protective services welfare system.  Another little one to be cared for by strangers who have pity, but not the loving family ties of a mom and dad or grandparents.   Laura and her man have been living together in a rent house in a small town.  They were unable to pay their bills, so they were “borrowing” (stealing) other people’s utilities.  They have been evicted.  They are accountable for their own bad behavior.  So why is Laura and her family homeless…in jail…alone and apart tonight?  Where are their families?  How can the church serve them? And will the help we offer work for them?

 Seekers of help from churches are the children of their own parents; grandchildren to their own grandparents; nieces and nephews to all their aunts and uncles in their family.  An individual’s family  are the ones who are usually first aware of the needs and/or irresponsibilities of their own family member.  And in light of their intimate knowledge of the behavior of the individual member, they are usually the most capable to provide information about what kind of help is truly needed by individuals seeking services from the church.  Our churches and church members are so graciously willing to be the ones to stand in the middle, building bridges to help people, and yet we find, so often, the help given is not actually the help most needed.  Many people seek help from churches in times of need, often many times.  Sometimes we see these individuals  in our worship services, but more often, they gravitate from church to church to church within a community and never hear the preaching of a worship service.  (I am not speaking here of those who have legitimate needs who seek help after exhausting other means.)

 Where are the families of the people seeking help; those who know these people the best?   Fortunately for Laura, we found her family, only a few miles away and they were willing to help her by taking her back home.  In a world which is becoming more and more dependent on handouts and entitlements, how can the church protect its members from these kinds of situations?  Many caring church members honestly look for ways to help others.  Isn’t this what God has called us to do?  But He has also called us to be good stewards of what we have been given.  Some of the help churches offer is unknowingly keeping the cycle of dependency going with individuals like Laura and her family. 

 When individuals do seek help from the church, what we, as the church, do have, is time.  In the moment of learning of a need, we have time to ask questions, time to make phone calls, time to communicate with the individuals and check out the facts.  We would do the same if we were looking to make a personal investment in something for ourselves.  Most needs are not so pressing and severe that they would prohibit a few phone calls to a utility company or landlord or a relative to insure we are being good stewards of money and goods which God has entrusted to us.  What would be the harm of seeking the nearest relative, or 3 personal references, drivers license or warrant checks, and contact information to further check on the type of needs the individual might not be telling us about.  This just makes good common as well as financial sense.  Time also gives us an opportunity to do discipleship or evangelical ministry with the individual.

Beloved, we are brothers and sisters, to these young, and sometimes desperate, children of our God.  There are numerous people in the church skilled at doing research and seeking information.  We can truly be part of the solution of getting the proper help to the people in need and seeking the proper solutions for those who are in need of help, other than financial.  We could even have a list of jobs needing done for any of several homebound or elderly members of our church to earn the financial assistance someone might need. We could offer budgeting classes, parenting classes, resume and job skills classes.  They may just need help filling out an employment application, or knowing how to get through an employment interview. 

What would Jesus do?  Is this just a coined phrase?  You and I are not so idealistic or even merciful to say we ought to jump up and save all the souls on the street, take them home with us and teach them how to take care of their responsibilities.  That should have already been done…right!!  And yet I am aware that I feel a twinge of guilt that I don’t do just that.  Because perhaps that is just exactly what Jesus would have done.  The Pastor of a church is not the only one in the church called to act in situations like these.  Each and every one of us is called for a time such as this, and each in our own areas of giftedness.  

 We are the church and we are the body.  We are the hands and feet of Christ.  Why don’t these unfortunate people see us in that capacity?  There are so many people who do need our help.  We possess the help they need…and it is not just our money.  When they run to us, let’s make sure they get the help they really need.  They need our time.  They need our discipleship.  They need our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Why don’t we start looking for them and inviting them to us with arms open wide and smiling faces.  Yes we can help them, because we know the One who is our Help. Why aren’t we welcoming the broken hearted people and helping them to heal?  We know the Healer.  Let us never become so secure in our own self-righteousness and in our comfortable homes that we do not think we need to take care of things like this.  Brothers and sisters in Christ, wake up…how I would hate for any of us to hear the most horrible words we never want to hear…”I never knew you”.

 ImageSo we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”  (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Life is Colorful and Now I Have a Blog…

So now I have a blog…  It started because I wanted to make a comment on my pastor’s blog and couldn’t because I didn’t have an account.   Go figure.  Now I have an account and now…what do I have to say that is worth saying.

The thing most on my mind today is the devastation in Oklahoma from the tornados that hit there yesterday.  Schools left in piles of rubble, homes destroyed, lives lost and many souls in chaos from not knowing where their loved ones are or whether they even survived the relentless calamity of this massive storm.

Lightning strikes over downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Lightning strikes over downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Things like this bring out the best and the worst in folks.  Warm moist air collides with  cold air and tragedy results.  Lives are changed.   Everything is changed. But over and over you hear, “we are alive and we can rebuiild and put our lives back together.”

Yes we are alive and yes we will be ok.  God put a spirit of perseverance in His people.  We see tragedy and it awakens our hearts beating in unison with our brothers and sisters.  It motivates compassion,  love and good will towards one another.  We jump up from our “normal” moments of life and are sent to a place where our subsequent actions truly matter.  And in this response we see a small part of how we are made in  the image of the Creator.  At our best, could it be that we are a picture of what God intended us to be. So what does this say about our normally routine lives…