Monday, July 5, 2010
Hot dogs, watermelon, fireworks, and flags: things we typically think of when it comes to summer, and especially the 4th of July. I saw many people dressed up in red, white, and blue while scurrying around Wal-Mart after church to get those last-minute items for their picnics and backyard bbq’s. I have to admit though, I wasn’t feeling patriotic. (However, forgetting a bag at the store, then having to drive all the way back to get it isn’t likely to put anyone in a fabulous mood!)
But my mind was on the morning’s sermon. It was the high school youth pastor, Chris’, turn to preach, and he felt the burden to share what God had been teaching him in an area that he admittedly fell short in: caring for the poor. The Bible describes the poor as those who are needy, oppressed, widowed, orphaned, or fatherless. In Deuteronomy 15:7-8, God commands His people not to be closefisted toward the poor in the land, but to be openhanded. More than anything else, the Bible talks about how we are to treat those in need around us.
Jesus really drives the point home in Matthew 25:31-46 in the last sermon he preached before going to the cross. He tells two groups that whatever they did to the least among them, they did to him. One group cared for the poor and thus cared for Jesus, the other group did not. The first group goes to heaven… the second group goes to hell.
This mind-set is against everything we have been taught growing up in America. We are told to do well in school, get good grades so we can get a good scholarship, go to a good school, meet a cute spouse, graduate with honors so we can get a good job, buy a house with a white-picket fence, have 2.5 kids with a dog (or cat), get promoted and set up a nice 401k, retire comfortably and collect seashells on your beach vacations. So then when you get to heaven, standing in front of God, you hold out your hands and say, “Look at my seashells!” I certainly don’t want to stand in front of the Father with a handful of seashells. Maybe I’ll be wearing my seashell necklace that day… but I want to live my life in such a way that that is my only seashell.
Pastor Chris ended the service asking us to gnaw on two questions:
1. What unique gifts has God given you that you can use?
2. And how can you use those to help those around you in need?
This is a challenge I feel called to respond to in prayer and with an open heart as to where God will lead me.