Last week I, along with several others from our church, were able to go to downtown Oklahoma City and serve the homeless and those less fortunate. I know, because of the ones that I serve with who are much more seasoned than I am, we always show up prepared. We provide to them food, clothing, toiletries, water, punch, coffee, hot chocolate, blankets, and many other things that one might need as part of daily living.
The ones that we team up with from another local church are an outstanding group of people. They are Gods blessed few that go week in, and week out at all costs. They don't miss a week to serve. And they are always prepared.
Preparation is key.
But was I prepared?
Upon arriving, I got my soapbox out, got it all set up, and prayed up asking God to give me the words to say and that I may speak boldly, straight, strong, and true.
Once I got done with my open-air, I was able to walk around and distribute Gospel Tracts to all those standing around and in lines to get items. As I was walking up to each individual, one man stopped me and told me "The Christian way is about doing what the Bible says so that when you are resurrected you will go up to Heaven and be there forever."
"Oh, really?" I responded.
"Yeah. It's as simple as that" he said.
"Okay good. Let's see if you've done that. How many lies do you think you've told in your entire life?" I asked.
"I know I've lied" he replied "but we've all done that".
"You're right. So therefore you've not done what the Bible says so therefore you have a problem. That's exactly what I just preached about. You can't match up to Gods standard and thus, can't even back up your own belief about "doin what the Bible says"."
As moments went on, I was able to walk him through two or three more of the Ten Commandments and he realized at that point that he couldn't even do what the statement he said, he could do.
The Christian way is not about doing anything so that something might happen. The Christian way is about doing something because something HAS happened--- because Christ has died and risen and promised resurrection in God's grace. The Christian life is a life lived in grateful response, and not in an attempt to earn or prove anything, because there is nothing for us to earn or prove. Remember, we are nothing in Gods sight because of our sin debt that we owe. So it's not about "Doing" at all. The Christian walk is not about works and what we do.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Ephesians 2:8-9
So it's about nothing we can do. It's about what has been done for us and in spite of us.
I think this point cannot be overstated, because the call of the Christian life is one of the selflessness of Jesus, and one cannot live selflessly as Christ did if one is trying to earn something for themselves. The only way one can truly empty themselves and live for God and others is in grateful response to what God has already given.
Out of the back of that van is where we set up the line to serve food items and drinks. The items sometimes differ depending on the weather/temperature. It makes the difference between fruit punch or hot chocolate.
80% of the groups we serve are on very low income and most are homeless.
The whole purpose, I believe, for the Christian life is to evangelize the lost and serve the needy. Nothing more. Nothing less. If as a Christian, you're not doing these things, then might I encourage you to take to heart the words of Jesus when He said:
Check yourself. Serve others.