Oh, the Lord is trying to get a hold of my heart in new, exciting, and terrifying ways, ladies! I began a journey at the beginning of this year. I started reading about the life of Jesus in the Gospels more and more, and I can’t get over His LOVE for people. His compassion, His care, His deep devotion to service. I’ve been reading at least a book a month so far this year, and in February the Lord kept telling me, “READ ‘INTERRUPTED’” (by Jen Hatmaker). I started this book a few years ago and never finished it. I now know that my heart was NOT ready for the message God wanted me to hear at that time.
So, you’re probably wondering what in the world I’m talking about — WHAT message? Jesus is starting to WRECK my comfortable Christianity. You all know what I mean by “comfortable Christianity”… the Christianity where we attend church 3 times a week, the one where we sing our worship songs, read our Bibles, sing in the choir, serve in the nursery and youth group, and try to be kind to others, BUT also the one where I’m doing NOTHING radical. I’m not reaching out to the poor, the sick, the lonely, the homeless, the abused. I’m staying in my comfortable bubble where I hardly interact with anyone outside of our church. I sort of like it that way. Comfort is safety.
While serving dinner to the homeless in Southern California, this woman’s T-shirt serves as a testimony to the reason behind the time, love and salad dressing she has donated to this forgotten community. Her relationship with Jesus — the ultimate Servant to us all — has spurred her on to interrupt her comfortable life and love on those outside her own church community.
Photo by Lauren Koski
Let’s be honest… Jesus didn’t just stay with His disciples or in the confines of the church. When you look at His ministry, He is literally reaching out to the outcasts. He’s healing lepers, the demon-possessed, the blind, the lame, and the deaf. He didn’t stay within the confines of COMFORTABILITY. I never intended to find myself here — comfortable and complacent, going through the motions of Christianity. I THOUGHT I loved like Jesus loves… and sometimes I do. To those in my family or those people who bless us or those who have the same beliefs or those who are clean. Yeah, I love them. But am I truly loving everyone? There’s so much more to this radical love than I knew. There’s a whole big world out there who needs Jesus, and we aren’t going to convince them of that through arguments or strangers appearing for a second to tell them of Jesus to never be seen again or even through ignoring them. Love, service, and relationships speak the loudest volumes.
I love that Jen Hatmaker speaks truth and challenges our complacency through sharing her story in Interrupted. She says, “Until we are all compelled and contributing, we’re settling for an anemic faith and a church that robs Christ followers of their vitality and repels the rest of the world.” I CAN’T AGREE MORE. The legalism has got to go. The unkindness has got to go. The selfishness has got to go. We need to be restored to what the Church should TRULY look like. Church isn’t a service… Sunday, Wednesday, whatever day. Church is supposed to be PEOPLE. People loving like and looking like Jesus. The Church should be the greatest aid to this hurting world, yet we seem to continually hurt it more instead of helping. Or we just remain complacent, flying under the radar while blessing only those people already part of our churches… pouring into ourselves alone.
It is the Church’s job to take care of those in need. The single moms, the orphans, the homeless, the sick, the elderly, the tired and weary. Our call in Matthew 25 to take care of those in need isn’t just a suggestion. CHRIST MEANS IT. Look at the severity of this call!
“At the final judgment: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’”
Doesn’t this BLOW YOUR MIND?! It is of utmost importance that we take care of those with need. Jesus’ life illustrates this beautifully, and as Christ followers our lives should be a reflection of His.
So where does this leave us? Where do we start? The needs of the world are so overwhelming when we think about the sum of them. We just have to START. Start in your homes. Collect change to donate to adoption agencies. Sponsor a child and write him or her letters regularly. Serve at a soup kitchen as a family. Simplify life in the home. Then broaden your horizons. Look at the needs of your community. How can your specific part of the Body reach your community? How can we make real change happen?
Jen says, “Transformation came in the form of dirty homeless men and abandoned kids. It came through abused women and foster children. It came through neighbors crying at my kitchen table. Transformation began with humility, even humiliation. It started with conviction and discipline. It increased through loss, not gain. It grew through global exposure and uncomfortable questions. It was born out of rejection, replanted in new soil. It was not found in my Christian subculture but in the eyes of my neighbors, the needs of my city, the cries of the nations. It was through subtraction, not addition, that transformation engulfed me, and I’ll tell you something: I am not the same… If an endless array of Bible studies, programs, church events, and sermons have left you dry, please hear this: living on mission where you’ve been sent will transform your faith journey.”
We’ve got to stop creating programs upon programs, trying to get the people to come to us. We’ve got to start meeting them where they are and actually start BEING the Church. I love that last quotation: “Living on mission where you’ve been sent will transform your faith journey.” We have to start where God has placed us. We have to start now.