By: Kristen L. McNulty
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"So she cries out to God up in heaven,
Been praying since she was eleven,
for Him to send someone to meet her there...
Maybe if, I took a little to talk,
then she'd heal a little if she wants to,
she can run, but let's teach her how to walk away...
There's a key to the door that she's been hiding behind."
-Crazy Mary by FM Static
One Sunday, I had the opportunity to witness a situation unfold. After a church service ended, a beggar stood outside of the church doors and asked those who were leaving the building for money. I was shocked to see how many people passed the man by without giving him even a smile and out of the hundred or more that passed him, only five people at most stopped to give him a dollar or two. And out of that hundred, not one stopped and reached out to him, ashamedly, myself included.
What's happening to us? According to recent surveys', only 24% of Christians across America have given money to a homeless or poor person within the past year. I can only assume that even a smaller percentage took the time to reach out to someone in need. This is not the Christianity that Jesus intending for us to live.
Over and over throughout the New Testament, Jesus left us with the commandment to love our neighbors. Somehow we often think that our neighbors are those who think, look, and dress the same that we do. We need to follow the example of Jesus and reach out to anyone in need, no matter of their social status. We as Christians need to reach out in love to those who are less fortunate than we are. Listen to what Jesus had to say about the subject:
"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.'
You see friends, when we die, God isn't going to measure us by how much we accumulated, rather by how much we gave away. Whether it was food, clothing, money or time. As Jesus said "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for 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.'
Jesus came to save not only those who will find themselves inside of the doors to our churches. Jesus came to save the family down the street, the bag lady we passed this morning, the cashier ringing in our purchases, the lonely senior at the old age home, the young child who is going without, the person standing in front of us in line, I could go on.
I think it's time that we as a church stopped planning and started doing. My pastor can't reach the mechanic who just fixed my car, but I can. I can't reach the homeless man who you pass on the way to work every day, but you can. If we all reached out to those whom God places across our paths, the world would see the love of Jesus in action.
You don't have to preach a sermon to reach those around you. As St. Francis once said: "Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words." Introduce yourself. Give a smile. Wish someone a nice day. Put a quarter in a run a meter that has run out. Visit someone you know is lonely. Stop and help if you see someone who is obviously struggling.
Let me leave you with some food for thought. The founder of Habitat for Humanity once went to the dedication of some Habitat houses that were built by volunteers. As he looked out at the new houses, he said, "Those houses we see are sermons, and I'd rather see a sermon any day than hear one." Our world feels exactly the same way. Hearing a sermon isn't going to reach the world around us. As a church, we've tried that, and failed miserably. Seeing a sermon is going to change our world, so let us be preachers in what we do everyday starting with today.
This devotional was aired as a part of the Making A Difference Christian Radio Show.