Grace is a journey, not an event... So come walk with me...

Grace is a journey, not an event... So come walk with me through this story...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Larger Story...

Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus hold told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him - but some of them doubted!  Jesus came and told his disciples, 'I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.  And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Matthew 28:16-20

        As an "urban missionary" I often find myself getting caught up in "serving the poor."  With the right spin, working with the homeless in NYC and Newark has the potential to be rather glamorous and seemingly heroic.  I find, however, that serving the homeless sometimes becomes an end unto itself.  That somehow this is the ultimate calling (to serve to poor) of God.  After all, does not God command us to feed the hungry?  Clothe the naked?  Provide the wanderer with shelter?  Now I know that no Christian would come and outright say this, but I do believe there is a subtle undertone of glamor in how the Church views our work with the poor.  This view however, whether spoken or unspoken, has the potential to be rather dangerous!
        Every time I lead a team of volunteers on the outreach I always read the Great Commission.  I boldly give my speech on how working with the poor is only a small part of God's larger story for His children.  Although proudly reading this every week I would all but forget about Christ's final word during my time on the outreach.  Furthermore I would also forget the dangerous implications for not taking this mandate seriously.  I would get caught up in simply "feeding the hungry."  About a month ago however, something happened and I was forced to re-evaluate my heart, my faith, and my mission.
        Mark faithfully came to our Newark outreach every week.  Most of the time he came for a free lemonade and a quick hello.  At one time he had expressed an interest in detox, but within a few weeks the desire had faded.  Mark was a former semi-pro basket ball player.  Unfortunately due to a knee injury his career had abruptly ended.  Mark had developed a heroin addiction.  From there he contracted HIV.  Recently cancer had also started to take over his body.  For the past few years Mark has lived in subsidized housing, paying women who prostitute themselves to keep him company.  A month ago Mark went into the emergency room with pneumonia and never came out.
        I've had quite a bit of time to wonder if I had done enough to show him the love of Christ.  Sure I had always welcomed him with a smile.  But the importance of the Christ's commission has now taken on a face.  We can read books, take pictures, and listen to music about feeding the hungry, but all this pales in comparison to the larger story that God is calling us into.  The story of taking God's love to the world through demonstration and proclamation.  The two are married, not to be separated.  This message of love and grace is not just for the poor.  Its value is not measured the feelings we get, but by the seeds we sow in life's storms and its draughts.  All who read this, I beg you, put down your books, stop taking your pictures, abandon your ipods... Go tell your neighbor that God loves them, very much...
        
      
       

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully said. I'm proud of you.

    ReplyDelete