This morning I read in Acts 3 about the early Christians taking care of each other. Not one of their number (and it was over 5000) was in need of anything, because they all shared what they had. Those who had much liquified some of their holdings in order to help provide for those who had little.
It’s not a coincidence that after reading that story I had the idea to take stock of my closet. It’s the BermudaTriangle of my house and desperately needs organizing. There are nineteen pairs of shoes and 125 shirts and sweaters. Not including my pants and dresses. Not including my husband’s clothing.
What in heaven’s name am I doing with 125 tops? Yikes! To be fair to myself, I admit that at least three quarters of them are probably ten years old or older. But that doesn’t eliminate the fact that there they sit, collecting dust and other closet grubbies, while another Christian somewhere halfway across the world makes do with one or two shirts and one pair of shoes mended with cardboard.
I am just one person. How can I make a difference? How can I change my life so that I resemble those first Christians who realized that nothing they owned was really theirs and shared with each other, seemingly without a second thought? I feel so insignificant in the face of the world’s woes.
Our nation is Lost, with a capital L. The Muslim countries who vilify us and call us the Great Satan may only be labeling what they see as our consummate greed. Even those of us who claim to be Christians often live sequestered lives, turning a blind eye and refusing to see, to really see, the world as our God sees it. Instead, we think of judgmental excuses:
- That homeless man with one arm holding a sign is really just a con artist.
- That one over there is just gonna go buy some dope, so why give him anything?
- What kind of woman with three kids ends up homeless? She must be on drugs or something.
- Why should I give money to the food bank? Isn’t that what food stamps are for?
- Those people want to live on the streets.
In this tight economy, we find ourselves holding on to what we have with a death grip, forgetting that everything material is temporary, except the love that we show to each other. Maybe one reason Christianity is losing ground in our country is that we have stopped taking care of our own…or, at the very least, is because the media has stopped reporting about us taking care of our own. There is a new religion rising up in the USA. It’s called Government. People everywhere are turning to the Government to save them
Why Government? If there were no needy among us, would the government still feel compelled to step in?
The old song, They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love, rings hollow today when we spend 105 percent of what we earn (a statistic from 2007, before the recession). How can we give to others when we are so wrapped up in ourselves?
Oh, that the Lord would just wipe the smudges off our lenses so we could see ourselves as we really are…and then so we’d do something about it. Repent. Turn away from materialism. Reach out a helping hand.
There are many avenues to explore, starting with our churches. Local food banks. Leftover food from restaurant often gets thrown out. Discarded clothing ends up in landfills all over the country. Homeless shelters have many needs.
One of those needs is a family headed by a single mom named Irene. I don’t know her situation, but whatever it was, she had to leave everything behind her. Maybe it was spousal abuse. Maybe her husband became very ill and died, leaving immense medical expenses. For whatever reason, Irene and her three young children found themselves without a home. Can you imagine not having a place to lay your head at night? Can you fathom what it is like to not know where your four year old girl will get her next meal?
A local homeless shelter took her in, and the shelter has been their only home for awhile now while Irene gets back up on her feet. She has a good job and is about to move into the shelter’s transitional housing program with a twist: she and her children will move into the furnished apartment with the knowledge that everything they see around them: the furniture, the clothing, the food, the dishes, the beds — is now theirs. When she graduates from the program in eighteen months, she’ll be able to secure her own apartment, or even home, based on the good credit she’s earned, without having to start over.
I have had the immense blessing of partnering with the homeless shelter in this endeavor for Irene. I’ve used my church and homeschooling contacts to completely furnish Irene’s apartment. I tell you this not to toot my own horn but to encourage you to follow your own nudgings. This has all been possible because of God’s blessing and leading and design. He planted the idea when I saw a newspaper article about the program years ago. It took several years of desire on my part to do something before enough doors opened to allow me to act. Words just can’t express the true joy I have experienced through this process. I scrubbed someone else’s shower and toilet with such vigor (the job required it!) that my muscles shook from exertion. I wanted it to be clean for Irene, you see. As I labored, though, I sang, just from the pure joy of using my time to serve someone in need. This is clearly a new beginning for Irene. But it is also a new beginning for me! I am proud of what God has done through my hands and the hands of those of my friends who have pitched in to help. My utmost hope is that Irene will walk into her new apartment and feel the love her heavenly father has for her.
But this blog isn’t about me, or even about Irene. It’s about you, Christian.
Somewhere you have seen something about helping others that resonates with your soul: maybe it was something in church or a direct mail advertisement. Maybe you felt a twinge as you walked past a panhandler downtown or feel drawn to help secure clean drinking water for the millions in the world who have none. If you are a Christian, then be assured that the Holy Spirit is gently prompting you to action, whatever that may be.
We will never reflect Christ as we should until we step out in faith and love others. We will never reflect our Lord until we put the welfare of others above ourselves. That kind of love is attractive. As Toby Mac aptly puts it,
Love is in the house and the house is packed
So much so I left the back door cracked
Mama always said it’s a matter of fact
that when love is in the house the house is packed…”
I pray we will each take a moment to reflect that our lives aren’t about us. He created each one of us for purposes beyond ourselves. Even Jesus, the Lord we love, existed for a purpose beyond his status as God’s Only Son: he existed for God’s Glory. He constantly looked for ways to glorify God, whether it was by restoring someone’s sight, turning water into wine, or raising a person from the dead. He told us that we would do GREATER things than those miracles, for God’s glory.
Do you believe Him?
Like Jesus, you exist for God’s Glory. How will you reflect the Glory this week?