Tuesday, January 13, 2009

For The Least Of These

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Matthew 25:34-40


I can remember lots of times in my life when I've cried. Moments of salty, wet, emotional release spilling down my cheeks in rapid succession. Yet for all the pain I felt at those times I can barely remember the core of my pain. Most of the situations have resolved themselves or become less painful with the passing of time.

In that vein, God has prompted me to do some serious thinking in one particular area of my life. What it all comes down to is this:

Has there ever been a time when grief washed over me simply because someone didn't know Christ? Essentially, when was the last time I wept for the lost?

I'm not talking about people halfway around the world, though certainly they matter too. I'm talking about people like my next door neighbor. Or, the nurse who takes my kids' vitals when they visit the doctor. The clerk at Wal-greens, the stranger in line with me at the bank, the parents of my daughter's classmates. But that's just my neighborhood.

What about those who are seemingly invisible? The single mom across town who can't make ends meet. A runaway teenager who will sleep beneath an overpass tonight. Or even the college student whose faith couldn't withstand the pressure of life on his own. The depressed man who lost his job and can't bring himself to tell his wife.

Is there anything in my life that would prove that I give a damn about any of the people I just mentioned?

The cursor flashes, waiting for my answer. Waiting for the truth.

For the most part my answer is no. Lately I've locked myself inside a Christian bubble. I've watched TV instead of prayed. I've thrown out clothes instead of donate them. I've eaten out instead of donating that same amount of money to a food pantry. And worst of all, I've hidden behind the guise of "busy" to excuse my lackadaisical use of the gifts God has given me.

I've been idle in the worst way, fat and happy in the bounty of God's grace.

Meanwhile, the city of Louisville hums. People of all ages, races and socioeconomic profile slip into the chaos of life as usual. And I, along with them, adjust my blinders and throw myself into the mix.

It hasn't always been this way for me. God's telling me He's ready for me to rediscover my love for the lost. And I'm taking you with me on the journey.

From time to time, starting next week I will begin profiling grassroots ministry organizations that are rooted in my highest traffic cities. Together we will explore the ins and outs of taking the Gospel to what Jesus called "the least of these." Together with these ministries you'll be given opportunities to pray for and partner with their mission: taking Jesus Christ to a lost world.

In the meantime I could use your help. Tell me about the ministries in your area that are taking the Good News to others. I'll add the organizations to my list and we'll profile as many of them as possible. I'm looking forward to this journey. I'd love to know what you think, too.


21 comments:

Donna said...

ouch.

Griffith Family said...

It just blows me away that someone could think that much about heaven and hell and actually think there is no God. And he's not alone. So many people, although they say they don't do this, see Christ in those that claim to be Believers. We are all sinners and there is pressure for those that Believe to be perfect, but I feel that we should be fruitful and reveal our flaws and our dependency on God's mercy and grace. Wow. Just may have to lift your video and share.

Candace Jean July 16 said...

I've often wondered why I cry during every song at church. I'm not sad, I don't think. Just emotional(?) I'm looking forward to following your journey and perhaps finding some answers of my own.

stacie said...

Wow! What an indictment! "How much do you have to hate someone to NOT tell them...?" That nailed me.

Where did you find this video? Is there more?

Thanks, Stacy!

Stacy from Louisville said...

Griffith Family & Stacie,

As far as I know this is the only video of Penn (from Penn and Teller) speaking on this subject. It's up on YouTube under "Penn talks about the gift of a Bible". Please use it. What he says needs repeating.

SFL

Beth said...

I have been feeling a similar conviction right here in my own city. And been wondering how I can make a difference (especially since my main job is my "mom job" to my 3 little ones). I'll be following along on this journey with you. And it gives me fresh conviction for the new assignment God's given me (to do a as-much-daily-as-I-can blog meditations working through the Bible).

I appreciate your willingness to be real just as much as I do your sarcastic awesomeness.

Raw Faith Real World said...

I'm really aware of those people on a regular basis... especially since I've had so many people coming to my home every week for music lessons. It's very clear to me that it's less about being able to play an instrument than about God's heart for them. For all the bad press Christians get, there are lots of grass roots organizations that make a difference locally. There's some great groups online too like "To Write Love On Her Arms" that reaches out to hurting young people. I've been reading a book called "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan that's really been stirring up my heart lately. I also watched a video by him where he was speaking at catalyst Where he had some intense things to say about really loving our neighbor.

Julianna said...

I was just talking about this with some ladies in a Bible study last night. We were talking about what our purpose is and how it seems like we are in this little bubble of our own life and not really doing anything for Christ (very brief synopsis of a brief part of the night). Thank you for the encouragement to get out there. We need to be aware of what God is doing and get busy helping Him. We also really need to put away the fear of rejection and have a true desire to be used to keep people from hell. People are dying and going to hell!! Wake up!!!

(I need this reminder - not trying to be preachy)

Marni said...

You're reading Crazy Love aren't you? God must be using it to get up in your business like He's getting up in mine because I'm feeling what you are. And that's good for us. Conviction should spur us into action. Thank you God, for conviction.

There is an organization I work with through my job and as a volunteer that is doing a remarkable work in taking the Gospel to the people in our county. Ellis Christian Women's Job Corps seeks to give a hand up, not a hand out, to the undereducated, poverty stricken, beat down (literally and figuratively speaking) women in our rural county. Most of them come to us as family or criminal court requirements. It's either us or jail. So we take them, love on them and teach them job skills, help them get their GED, teach them parenting, money management, home ec, and give them a course on Boundaries so they can learn to break the cycle of whatever poor choices got them to where they may be now. But the MOST important thing we do is share the Gospel with them in daily Bible study. We introduce them to the Jesus who loves them where they're at and loves them despite their mistakes.

Please go to www.ellisbaptist.org/cwjc if you'd like to see the work that goes on there.

sam said...

wow. this really hits home. my family isn't saved and everytime i used to think about it i would just cry my eyes out. i try to show them Christ's love but most of the time i fail and they just see me as a hypocrite. but something i think God has been trying to tell me lately is crying about it won't do anything. crying about it isn't going to save them.. nothing i can do will save them. only God's grace can do that. i admit i hurt for people i don't know at school who don't have him in their lives.. but i don't act on it. i feel for them but am always to scared to show them Christ's love. this is something i'm really workin on.

Lois said...

I saw the Penn video clip last weekend at our Churches yearly youth conference. Jonathan McKee was the main speaker. He had some really convicting things to say along with showing us that video. And yes, I have also recently read "Crazy Love" and felt the Spirit nudging me.

After reading the comments that people had to share it seems like many of us are in the same boat...we are being called to action, called to move, called to do, called to pray.

Thanks for helping to spur us on Stacy! =)

Rob said...

Get off my feet, Stacy!

Thanks for being honest enough to put into words what I'm afraid to find if I really examined myself...I think a little bit o' soul-searching is in my near future...

Gabrielle Eden said...

REALLY GOOD POST, Stacy! I know what you mean. I was just thinking this morning about fasting, about what it says about the fast that breaks the yoke - and do I do that? Do I fast until yokes are broken? There's a hidden blessing in a fast, and a hidden power, to bring healing, to bring deliverance.

I too am burdened by my own need to go much further to bring Christ to lost people.

These are the kind of posts that I like Stacy - they give me meat. Thanks so much.

Oh, but I wonder if you should be using the word "Damn." Just kidding! Ha ha ha!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ryan B said...

Sam. I can really relate to you. A couple of years back I was in a similar situation with my family. Over time, however, things got better. I started dragging my parents to church but things weren't really changing much. I thought that when I left for college they would be done with that whole thing. However, when I came back for Thanksgiving break I learned that they had been going every week since I had left. God had really been working there. Now my mom is actually applying for a job at the church. It's pretty cool to see how everything has been working out.

K Storm said...

I saw this video clip a couple of weeks ago and it was a real wakeup call. How do we think we can impact the world by acting "holier than thou" and condemning the others...that is not our job. We need to treat others with dignity and respect (maybe Christ-like?) in order to make an impression.

Karen (KayKay) said...

Great post and I needed the reminder, but ouch. Being confronted with my failings hurts. Necessary, but painful. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

There's a great organization in Atlanta that ministers to the lost, it's called Church on the Street. They have made a huge impact among the homeless in that city.

I agree with your sentiments. It is so easy for us to get so caught up in our own daily comings and goings that we turn a blind eye to those around us who are in dire need of a Savior. It seems that we get comfortable with everything God has blessed us with and forget that there is a world full of lost people that are destined to an eternity in hell if they don't accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It is something we should lament over, it should be in our thoughts on a daily basis, and our actions should most certainly reflect this. Thank you for your boldness and for your insight!

Delbra said...

These are some thoughts from Mother Teresa regarding Matthew 25:31-46. And who are we to argue with Mother Teresa?! Hunger is not only for bread; hunger is for love. Nakedness is not only for a piece of clothing; nakedness is lack of human dignity, purity, and respect for each other. Homelessness is not only being without a home; homelessness is also being rejected, unwanted, and unloved.

She also pointed out that these verses contain the standard for judgement. The poor are the hope for humanity, for we will be judged by how we have treated the poor. Our suffering neighbor is the image of God Himself. It is Christ whom we are serving in their disfigured faces. We must satisfy the needs of the body, so we can then bring Christ to the poor.

tarajackson said...

Stacy,

If you ever get a chance to come 3 hours down south to Nashville, I am personally inviting you and your family to come be a part of a service with The Bridge Ministry. www.bridgeministry.org. Every Tuesday night for the past 4 years, churches working together have come under the Jefferson Street Bridge in downtown Nashville to feed, serve, clothe, and love on Nashville's "least of these". We also have a program that reaches kids at a couple of the local schools in the area. I'm totally with you on everything you said in your blog post, and though I have been a part of the ministry for over 2 years now, I am increasingly burdened for those outside the 4 walls of the church.

Take a look, and we'd love to have you down under the Bridge with us sometime. :)

Tara :)

bman said...

This was an awesome post. I've actually been feeling God tugging at me to seek the lost too. The saddest part of that is that I work for a missions organization. I help missionaries all over the world to do what they do and still have struggle with this.

I saw that video a while back, and I have seen some other stuff by him where he talks about God and other things and this is powerful stuff.

This will be a welcomed edition to SFL. Thank you!

Rebecca Jo said...

Wow - what impacting statements he says... & how sad is it that he so strongly states he believes there is no God.... it made me hurt for him.