Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Robes For Rations

It's just after 4:00AM and alot is on my mind after being rudely awakened by our cat who decided to jump on me and take a stroll a few minutes ago. As I awoke, my usual process of vivid dreaming was brought to an abrupt halt. My mind must have been creating images and scenery based upon a discussion I had with a friend earlier tonight. We talked about the challenges of reaching out to the homeless, disabled and the hurting. By that, I mean truly reaching out to them and putting hands and feet to our "good intentions" (which I do too little of I might add).

If you read this blog regularly, then you know that this is new territory for me, but it would seem that God is speedily allowing me to cover a lot of ground quickly. As I lay there in bed, becoming more and more awake with each passing moment, thoughts of what the church as a whole is doing about this issue began to flood in. I was quickly becoming angry at what we, "the church" are doing (or rather not doing) in order to care for those less fortunate that are all around us. Although I've been somewhat discouraged and dismayed with many church practices over the years, I've never remotely been where I seem to be headed over the last few weeks and months. After all, I was one of the guys that always noticed great staging and lighting at mega–churches. I'd "ooh and ah" with the best of them over fantastic buildings and state of the art facilities. Even not long ago, when I was a youth pastor, I'd constantly do all that I could to improve on our youth room as the measly budget would allow. I'd upgrade the A/V equipment and get new seating. Perhaps if I paint the walls and get a nice stage put in, the kids will flood in from the streets. It's really quite funny now, looking back at that mentality because I'm seemingly becoming so anti–program which, if you knew me, could not be further from the way I've lived the majority of my life.

What I'm getting at is this. Why does the majority of the organized church do nothing more than fund an inside job that caters to our every need and desire? Of course in many cases we say that it's all to create a comfortable environment for the un–churched, but is that really the goal? And even if it is, do we really believe that plasma screens in the lobby will pull it off? A laundry list could ensue, but I'll briefly give a few examples for the sake of wasting your valuable time: Thousands of dollars are spent for beautiful new choir robes to entertain the crowds eyes. Perhaps a great new sign out front will get people in the door and the tithes back up. If we spend money hand over fist to get on television each week, then people will surely see all of the great things we have to offer. Bigger buildings, million dollar sound systems, plush seating and big screens for all! All the while, homeless are freezing to death on Saturday night unbeknownst to anyone in the entire congregation.

Of course this is not all–inclusive and I do realize that there are churches that use their resources for actual ministry beyond sending off a check to denominational missionaries each month. My wife and I have recently discovered a church doing just that, so I do know that this church does exist. But take a good look around you, a church is never more than a few miles from wherever you are and, in most cases, within it's walls is sitting a vast wasteland of earthly treasure. Let's sell the sound equipment on ebay, trade in the high dollar seating for some thrift store fold–outs and burn the choir robes and hymnals for heat.

Lord, have mercy on us, we truly do have much to learn.


Kay said...

This is a one of your top blog posts. So right. It is time to stop spending on the comfort for the church and BE THE CHURCH.

Mercy's Child said...

Amen Kay, I am in total agreement with you.
Joel,this is your best to date.
I believe you are in touch with the heart of The Lord on this issue.

Bill Ingram said...

Once again I have to agree. See I run a homeless shelter. And the truth is churches support it so they will not have to get involved. They don't want those dirty stinky people in their church. But at our mission we have chapel and God is so moving amidst the homeless. When he said go into the highway and hedges and compel them to come in he was talking salvation. but if it don't fit the Sunday morning program then it just isn't proper. And if you do get the homeless in church, Love them! for they are people just like us. Yes some are there by choice some fell through the cracks, and others well they need to know God loves them. Thanks Joel for your work on this blog. And thanks to Mercy's child for turning me on to it.

Anonymous said...

I agree whole heartedly, the church has some selfish motives... we are dealing with people who make up the church. And just as I am typing God is saying to me, "They are part of the Army of the Lord so don't shoot the wounded" Interesting thought... God is right. When we look inward, or self-ishly, we are not looking outward or sowing seeds. We are eating our seeds... Ask a farmer what happens when you eat seeds. POVERTY is the result because the seed does not have a chance to be planted to produce a harvest to bring more seeds.

As far as the homeless, many of them have made that choice because they do not want to be responsible and accountable to someone else. Most of the people, who were homeless that I took into my personal home, only wanted to be freed from the situations, but did not want to be accountable or responsible for their actions. Self focus or selfish brings poverty, not blessing. If we want God's blessings we have to walk in obedience to His Word/His Ways. He is not obligated to scoop us our out our emergency, He is only obligated to His Word, seeing that it does not return void to Him. When we line up with His Word, it will not return void to us, either.

As far as children in starving countries, their parents serve false gods and they are taught to do the same... so they end up with poverty stricken results.

As I type this, I am not sure who is worse off, the church that sleeps in the pew, metaphorically speaking, or the Christian who refuses to cover one another in love, as love covers a multitude of sins (selfishness).

I have found if we see something that is a weakness in others, it is our anointing showing up to bring strength to it to make it whole. In our weakness He is made strong because He meets us where we are and does not condemn us. I am starting to see the body of Christ needs to do that more within.

Since you cannot change what others do or say, you can determine what YOU are going to do about the weakness and add agreement with God to see others the way He sees them to help a bad situation become whole and nourishing. Bottom line, His yoke is easy, His burden is light… that means we cannot change others as that is laborious, but we can change what We decide as God ministers to our heart and we personally walk in obedience.